Less than 10% of all business crime reported to police


On Friday (July 17) Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne convened another meeting of her Safer Sussex Business Partnership to identify easier ways for businesses to report crime.

This meeting included senior officers from Sussex Police, business crime experts, representatives from Tesco, Sainsbury’s and the Co-op as well as representatives of smaller, local stores, business crime reduction partnerships and Mitie.

It was revealed that business crime across Sussex, as across the whole country, is significantly under reported and a recent analysis conducted locally with a large national chain revealed less 10% of all their incidents were reported to Sussex Police.

It was recognised that there are currently too many barriers to reporting crime for local businesses - including the time spent reporting crimes and the misconception that financial thresholds exist and influence what crimes police will investigate.

Peter Fisher from the National Business Crime Solution said: “Reporting to the police has a productivity cost and current reporting mechanisms could mean up to 20-30 minutes for a member of staff to be away from the shop floor.

“One large retailer in Sussex is spending £24,000 per annum reporting crime. By reducing the amount of time spent reporting, this cost implication will subsequently reduce, and you could really impact how frequently businesses come forward to the police.”

Sussex Police are committed to identifying a reporting solution for local businesses, PCC Bourne comments: “It was clear from today’s meeting that the Sussex Police online reporting forms are too time consuming for local businesses who are maybe experiencing multiple offences daily. Also, there is still a negative perception of the 101 non-emergency line despite call waiting times having significantly reduced.

“These barriers mean that the police currently do not have a clear picture of business crime levels in the county and therefore are not always deploying the most appropriate policing response.

“I will be encouraging officers to work with partners over the next 12 months to myth-bust perceptions and develop an integral solution to make it easier for local businesses to quickly report crimes that have occurred in their stores.”

All representatives agreed that most crimes in their local stores are carried out by prolific offenders, who use threatening and sometimes violent behaviour if challenged by staff. It was agreed that intelligence sharing amongst local businesses and the police is key to ensuring these people are taken off our streets.

Business Crime Lead for Sussex Police, Chris Neilson comments: “We are listening to the needs of local businesses as it is crucial that we start to piece together the true picture of business crime across Sussex.

“I made it clear in today’s meeting that Sussex Police want to know about all incidents of crime made against local businesses and that there are no thresholds to limit what should be reported to us.

“We know that many of the issues local businesses face are caused by prolific offenders. We have collated the ‘Force Repeat Offenders’ top 10 list over the last 12 months, in which six of the top ten committed a total of 125 offences of theft from a shop and anti-social behaviour towards staff.

“If we can make it easier for businesses to report all crime incidents, we can work to build more robust cases against these people and take them off our streets.”

Detective Inspector Andy Nicklin, from Sussex Police’s Contact Centre, said: “We are keenly aware of the cost to businesses, both in terms of finance and time, to report crime. We know that this leads to under-reporting, so we are working with businesses to understand their concerns and make it easier and simpler to report crimes and to share information.

“We have recently invested in the Digital Evidence Management Solution (DEMS) to allow businesses and members of the public to share digital evidence with us, which means key CCTV can be passed and reviewed by our investigators much quicker. This gives a more efficient service to businesses and allows us to swiftly pursue those prolific offenders who cause harm to our communities.”

Another meeting of the Safer Sussex Business Partnership will be convened on July 29 to look into how police officers are investigating reports of businesses crime and their solved rates.