Crime costs businesses billions

A proposal to tackle business crime by forcing offenders to pay for losses and damage to property is only a first step to protecting small firms, warns the Forum of Private Business (FPB). Following its 2008 crime survey, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) revealed that business crime has increased by more than £2 billion since 2004, from £10.5 billion to £12.6 billion.
Under the plan, which was announced recently by the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, the Rt Hon Jack Straw, offenders could be forced to return to the scene of a crime in order to apologise and pay any damages. While the FPB welcomes these measures, it believes more should be done to prevent business crime.
“Many firms are faced with the costs incurred by repeated crimes against their premises. This significantly impacts on growth and, in many cases, their ability to survive,” said the FPB’s Chief Executive, Phil Orford. “The knock-on effect for local economies, in terms of inward investment, employment and community confidence, can also be devastating. We need a more visible, proactive police presence. There must also be a change in the culture of not reporting crimes, so that the perpetrators stand a greater chance of being caught and are prevented from re-offending.”
Home Office statistics from 2000 estimate the total cost of crime in the UK is £59.9 billion per annum, of which 20 per cent is business-related.
Research shows that many businesses are not reporting crime because of the bureaucratic process reporting it to the authorities. In addition, they lack the faith that offenders will be brought to justice. A survey carried out by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) into business crime during 2006 and 2007 found that 36 per cent of respondents lack confidence in police responses, with 29 per cent indicating that reporting crime is too time-consuming.