Chief backs move on business crime

THE Chief Constable of Suffolk has thrown his weight behind calls for official statistics to be recorded for crimes affecting businesses.

THE Chief Constable of Suffolk has thrown his weight behind calls for official statistics to be recorded for crimes affecting businesses.

Speaking to members of the Institute of Director's Suffolk branch, Alastair McWhirter said police forces generally had been less than effective in dealing with businesses in the past.

Most forces did not record business crime because it was not among the statistics which the Government required them to keep.

However, since December, Suffolk Constabulary had been keeping a record of business crime - defining it as any offence taking place on business premises or which involved people at work.

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“I feel very strongly that society depends on business,” said Mr McWhirter. “I believe very strongly in capitalism, in the sense that it is capitalism which drives society, creates jobs and keeps people out of trouble.”

In his role as regional chairman of the Association of Chief Police Offices, Mr McWhirter said he was working with the East of England Development Agency and the IoD to raise the profile of business crime and its impact on society, including the creation of a regional business crime forum.

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The only other region with such a forum at present was the West Midlands, which also kept its own statistics on business crime, as did South Wales.

Early indications from the figures being kept in Suffolk were that business crime accounted for around 11% of all crime in the county, said Mr McWhirter - rather less than claimed by some business surveys.

However, there was an issue of under-reporting, with fraud - including everything from passing fake bank notes to internal fraud committed by staff against their employers - accounting for the biggest proportion of business crime, at 35%.

Businesses were sometimes reluctant to report fraud, said Mr McWhirter, and chose to deal with the issue through dismissal but this was not a full solution. He urged the IoD members: “Don't just sack people and let them go and do it somewhere else - because they will.”

Mr McWhirter added that, besides the recording of statistics, business crime initiatives in Suffolk included encouraging retailers to allow their staff time to train as special constables, which brought benefits such as communication skills which were transferable to the workplace, and working with rural post offices on security arrangements to combat robbery.

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