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Business: Crime

Volume 487: debated on Thursday 5 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent assessment she has made of levels of crime against businesses; and if she will make a statement. (250355)

Crimes against business that are reported to the police are recorded in national crime statistics. Some of these, such as robbery of business property, shoplifting, and theft by an employee are counted and recorded separately. The latest published statistics for these offences are for the year 2007-08 and show:

Shoplifting decreased 1 per cent. from 2006-07 to 2007-08, from 294,282 to 290,625 offences.

Robbery of business property decreased 3 per cent. from 2006-07 to 2007-08 from 9,454 to 9,141 offences.

Theft by an employee decreased by 3 per cent. from 2006-7 to 2007-8 from 16,323 to 15,858 offences.

We continually monitor trends in these crime types through the monthly submissions from police forces to the Home Office. Many crimes committed against business are, however, grouped with other un-related crimes and we are therefore planning to increase the range of business crimes which are counted separately. The separate recording of commercial burglary, for example, is being trialled in some police forces later this year.

We recognise, however, that some business crime may not be reported to the police and so are undertaking a scoping exercise to investigate the possible scope and methodology for a new survey of commercial victimisation. Previous surveys in 1994 and 2002 have provided a fuller and more accurate assessment of levels of crime against specific sectors (small and medium sized enterprises in the retail and manufacturing sectors).

The Government take very seriously crime committed against businesses and we are working closely with key business organisations, police and other Government Departments to tackle it. We have made it clear in our public service agreement ‘Make Communities Safer’, and in the policing Green Paper ‘From the Neighbourhood to the National: Policing Our Communities Together’ that crimes against businesses should be addressed by forces and their local partners. This is backed up by the reforms set out in the Green Paper to empower local communities, which will strengthen the voice of local businesses who are at the heart of many communities, in how their neighbourhoods are policed. The National Police Improvement Agency will shortly be publishing practical guidance for police forces on how to identify and address the specific needs and priorities of local businesses.