Suffolk: Police supremo gathers volunteer army for war on business crime

Tim Passmore at his desk as Police and Crime Commissioner

Tim Passmore at his desk as Police and Crime Commissioner - Credit: Contributed

A small army of expert volunteers from the business sector is being gathered to do battle against business and economic crime in Suffolk.

Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore, who was launching a business crime survey yesterday, said he had already received offers of help from business people including members of the Suffolk branch of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and Suffolk Chamber of Commerce.

There are an estimated 34 organised crime gangs operating in Suffolk, of about 5,000 nationwide, he said.

He also revealed that three cases of economic crime involving “quite serious” allegations had crossed his desk in recent months and it was an area of concern.

He is urging businesses to fill in the short survey, which is questioning business owners on their attitudes to crime, and the types of crime which are causing problems for them.

He will be using the results and anecdotal examples to help him to draw up priorities and to lobby central government on matters affecting businesses here.

Mr Passmore, who is focusing his attention this month on economic crime and its effects as his rolling ‘priority of the month’, said he is hoping to harness the talents of professionals with know-how in areas such as finance and the internet and encourage them to become special constables.

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They would offer up their time in Suffolk police’s bid to clamp down on some nationally-neglected areas where law-breaking has become rife, such as internet-based crime.

“Special constables don’t all have to be going out in a uniform,” he said.

Mr Passmore met with businesses on Friday at a regular crime forum event at police headquarters in Martlesham Heath and discussed a wide range of issues from hare coursing and livestock rustling to heating oil theft.

“The economy is very important and of course it’s a central part of our police and crime plan. It’s well documented and well known that if the economy suffers you can get more crime,” he said.

It was also true that where there are problems with crime, it is more difficult to attract investment and businesses, he said.

“A vibrant economy is really, really important, and good policing can help enhance the reputation of the area and get them to come and invest,” he said.

One area he was very concerned about was internet or cyber crime, he said. His team was looking for ways to get more volunteers to look at areas such as fraud and money laundering, where knowledge of banking and forensic accounting are key.

“We are not really, really geared up to deal with it and neither are constabularies throughout the UK,” he said.

Under-reporting of crime among businesses was a problem, he said, because of perceptions that it would not be followed up and investigated.

“What we have got to do is the raise the profile of business crime,” he said.

“Business crime does have victims - we all pay for it.”

The next business forum at Martlesham Heath police headquarters takes place on October 29.

The Suffolk business survey can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8R8RHTM.

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