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RETAIL ENVIRONMENT

Small retailers are biggest crime victims

Small to medium sized retailers were the biggest target of crime in the last year, according to the latest survey from the Federation of Small businesses (FSB).

There were almost eight million physical and online crimes committed against small businesses in England and Wales in the last year, with an equal split between the physical (3.8 million) and digital crime (3.9 million) according to the new report 'Calling Time on Business Crime: Safeguarding small firms for the future' which interviewed businesses from across the UK to determine how business crime is affecting the SME population.

Around 50 per cent of respondents said they had experienced crime against their enterprise in the last year, but 38 per cent said they had concerns over police response to their reports.

Experience of crime varies widely across key small business sectors. Across England and Wales, the wholesale and retail sectors appear to be most frequently affected, with three in five (59 per cent) of smaller businesses saying they have experienced crime in the last two years.

At the other end of the spectrum, only a third (33 per cent) of those working in the professional, scientific and technical sector say they have experienced crime over the same period.

Of those small firms that experienced traditional crime in the previous two years, the most frequently reported types are robbery/burglary (42 per cent), theft (38 per cent) and criminal damage (36 per cent). In total, these crimes are reported by a combined 83 per cent of all those that experienced traditional crime.

The risk of these types of crime increases with size of business. The exception to this rule is theft, which drops for businesses larger than 20 employees. At this size, businesses may have both the resources to invest in counter-measures and the footprint to make doing so economically worthwhile.

Business crime is a serious concern for our members. As such, it is imperative that UK Government take any action that they can to support SMEs and prevent crime from occurring.

“FSB data found that the average cost of crime to a business is nearly £3,000 per victim business per year, but it is worth remembering that it is not a financial cost alone that is associated with business crime.

“These figures do not factor in-direct negative impacts such as reputational damage that can follow the perpetration of a crime, the lost hours and days and cancelled or delayed business plans that often follow from being subject to a criminal act.

“The main areas in which we can deal with business crime are dealing with the underlying issues causing people to move into criminality, working with businesses to reduce the opportunities to commit crime, and prioritising deterrence.

“It is important to recognise the impact that business crime has on businesses, individuals and our economy, and to work together so that we can reduce the negative effects of business crime on our communities as a whole.”

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