I am Michael Grime and I am the Business Crime Coordinator for Lancashire Constabulary. My role is specifically funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire, Mr Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire Constabulary have created my role to support the Constabulary’s response to business crime and to engage with internal and external stakeholders e.g. members of staff, businesses, Chambers of Commerce and local councils. Business Crime is a key priority for the Police and Crime Commissioner and is included in his Police and Crime Plan.
Crimes against businesses can take many forms. The most common types include shoplifting, anti-social behaviour, fraud and cybercrime. However, the biggest concern for businesses is violence and verbal abuse against staff. An employee’s place of work is supposed to be a safe place and becoming a victim of crime can be intimidating as well as emotionally and psychologically damaging.
Nationally, over a third of businesses do not report business crime to the police. In 2018, the retail and convenience sector lost nearly £1billion to shop theft. In Lancashire, there are over 50,000 small, medium and large businesses and the number of business crime incidents and costs to businesses are continually increasing.
The Constabulary has a recently updated website designed to equip Lancashire businesses with the knowledge and information needed to help protect you against all types of crime. The website includes guidance including how to report business crime and how to access support for victims.
It is important that you report all crimes – no matter how small – to the Constabulary. This can help us to build up a better picture of crimes in your area, potentially find links between related crimes, the better to address them. Please ensure that you request a crime number as it can help you track the progress of your case and is often necessary to be able to make a claim on your insurance.
In order to reduce business crime, it is important that businesses and Lancashire Constabulary work together. There are a number of methods you might employ to reduce business crime.
Carry out a Business Security Assessment
Like any potential threat to your business and the safety of your employees, businesses are advised to carry out a business security assessment to consider the likelihood of crime occurring in your workplace. This will help you to identify appropriate ways to reduce risks and protect your staff from crime and violence in the workplace.
A business security assessment tool can be found on the Lancashire Constabulary website. The assessment relates to not only physical security measures such as perimeter fencing but also to daily routines such as visitors on the business premises. The assessment will provide businesses with ideas about how you can tighten up your working practices to improve security.
Secure your premises
The security features you need in the workplace will depend on each business and may include alarm systems, secure doors and windows including locks, shutters and CCTV. Make sure you choose security equipment that meets a minimum standard and is supplied from a reputable firm.
One way of preventing crime is to reduce the potential rewards of crime or provocation to commit crime. This can include removing stock or large amounts of money from the premises at night.
Layout of your Store
The layout of your store can be a big deterrent for criminals. It is important to consider keep high value goods away from the door and close to CCTV and/or till areas.
Find out what’s happening locally
In order to reduce business crime, it may be beneficial to liaise with neighboring businesses and look into joining Business Improvement Districts, Business Watch and/or Shopwatch schemes. If crime is on the increase in the area, or a particular person or group of people are causing a nuisance, local businesses could benefit from this knowledge by being vigilant and prepared. This will enable improved information sharing and partnership working to reduce business crime in Lancashire.
Protect Your Online Presence
All businesses ought to be aware of online crime. It is very important that all businesses take security precautions. These can include:
- If you get an email from an unknown source, do not open it and do not click on any attachments.
- No bank or card issuer will contact you by email and ask you to enter all your personal and financial details online. If you receive a message like this, report it to your bank, then delete it.
- Make sure that your anti-virus software is up to date.
- Never follow the messages from anti-virus software you encounter whilst on the internet. Only follow the anti-virus instructions from the software you have installed on your computer.
- Ensure that your software is up to date.
- Complex passwords can be your first defense against hackers. Poor passwords will leave you and your business vulnerable to identity theft, fraud and extortion. It is very important that businesses make passwords as strong as possible incorporating numbers, symbols, upper and lower case letters.
Victim of Business Crime
If your business has been a victim of crime, you can make a crime impact statement to support the prosecution of the offender. This gives you the opportunity to set out the impact the crime has had on the business including financial loss, operational disruption or reputational damage.
Lancashire Victim Services provide victims of business crime with emotional support, information and practical help. They can be contacted on 0300 323 0085.
Reporting Business Crime
Businesses can report business crime in a variety of different ways.
- In an emergency – always call 999.
- If it’s not an emergency, you can report by calling 101 but I recommend reporting online via the Lancashire Constabulary website. This function allows you to upload pictures and CCTV.
If anyone would like to discuss or hear more information about business crime, email me on email@example.com. In addition, you can follow our dedicated business crime twitter page – @lancpolbuscrime