The Forum of Private Business has warned that soaring crime levels could cause many small shops to close, with devastating effects for the communities they serve.
According to Home Office statistics, the total cost of crime against businesses has increased by almost 20% since 2004 – from £10.5 billion to £12.6 billion.
But 28% of firms – double the number in 2004 – have not reported all the crimes
committed against them in the past 12 months.
While 36% of businesses which took part in the survey claimed they would not report an incident due to lack of confidence in a suitable police response, 68%
suggested they would consider not reporting a crime if there was only a relativelysmall loss or damage to their premises. Most (56%) are not confident
the police understand the issues they face, and 68% believe the police are not
adequately tackling crime against businesses.
Sheffield drinks retailer John Mitchell has experienced two recent crimes in which he feels he was let down by police.
“Three weeks ago a guy walked straight into the shop, grabbed a £300 bottle of
Champagne and said ‘don’t try to stop me’,” he said. “We have made a still from
the video and members of the public have identified him, but the police haven’t
done anything. It’s just a complete waste of time.”
Mitchell said a customer who threatened staff with a bottle after being told he
was barred was not arrested, despite waiting at a nearby bus stop when police
responded to the panic alarm. “The police came and wanted me to make a statement,” he said. “By the time they had taken my date of birth he was gone. Yet if my staff make two mistakes with underage sales they’ll take my licence off me.”
FBP chief executive Phil Orford said: “We need a more visible, proactive police
presence. There must also be a change in the culture of not reporting crimes so the perpetrators stand a greater chance of being caught and are prevented from reoffending.”