Crime doesn't pay: UK businesses stung by £12.6bn

09-04-2008

Crime doesn't pay: UK businesses stung by £12.6bn
Crime levels against businesses in the UK have risen by a fifth over the last four years, a survey showed on Wednesday.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) says £12.6 billion worth of criminal damage was done to businesses in the last year, a 20 per cent increase on its last report in 2004.

More than half of the firms surveyed said they had been the victims of crime in the last 12 months, with the most common crimes including damage to vehicles, vandalism, graffiti and burglary.

Official Home Office statistics show that crime is falling overall in the UK, but the BCC claims this is due to business crime not being regarded as a key performance indicator.

Eighty-five per cent of respondents, as well as the Conservative party, are backing the call for the British Crime Survey to include crimes committed against businesses.

"This survey has laid bare the growing cost of business crime and exposed some fundamental flaws in the way business crime is handled by the police," said BCC director general David Frost.

"The absence of a national definition for business crime, from which police forces can record instances of criminal activity, is an issue which needs addressing. The government must work closely with the business community going forward if they truly want to clamp down on the growing problem."

The Conservatives claim crime is having a "hugely damaging effect" on the UK's business environment.

Shadow home secretary David Davis said the British Crime Survey should include crime against business.

"This report demonstrates the rising costs and concern about business crime, together with declining confidence in law enforcement under Labour," he said.

"Faced with this growing problem, the government has increasingly resorted to issuing the equivalent of a parking ticket for serious offences like shoplifting - rather than a proper criminal punishment. This sends precisely the wrong message to persistent offenders."

Responding to the claims, a Home Office spokesperson said the government was "firmly committed" to working alongside business and trade associations to combat business crime.

"We recognise the cost and disruption that crime causes to business as well as its effects for communities and consumers," the representative said.

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