Crime 'a serious issue' for many small firms

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Many companies are failing to report criminal behaviour

New research published by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has highlighted the considerable impact that crime can have on the nation's many smaller firms. However, in many cases, these offences are not being reported.

According to the organisation's findings, almost one quarter (24 per cent) of small businesses that are affected by crime do not bother to report it, as they believe they are unlikely to secure a prosecution (38 per cent) and do not think that doing so will achieve anything positive (48 per cent).

Furthermore, this is now a longstanding issue that companies across the UK are facing, as the proportion of small firms that state they take this attitude has remained unchanged for the last six years.

FSB national chairman Mike Cherry commented that the introduction of the new 'business crime' definition by police forces up and down the country last year was a positive step in the right direction towards tackling this issue, these latest results show there is still a long way to go in order to boost confidence among company leaders that their voices will be heard when they have been the victim of criminal behaviour.

"Crime affects all businesses, but it impacts smaller firms the hardest as they cannot absorb the unexpected costs," he argued. "The fact that businesses are not reporting crimes shows a real breakdown in trust and confidence in the police."

As a result, the FSB has now published a manifesto of major concerns, which the body believes should be addressed by all candidates who are planning to run in this year's police and crime commissioners (PCC) race.

Details include:

  • Increased investment in cyber crime capabilities for all police forces - covering both the ability to trace and prosecute these events, as well as raising awareness of best practice among local businesses.
  • The creation of clear business crime objectives in all future Policing Plans.
  • All PCCs to invest in a better understanding of local business attitudes to policing in their area.
  • Map and publishing of comparable data highlighting business crime rates in each area of the country.
  • All forces to use the new business crime definition based on a set of clear guidelines.
  • Encouraging more businesses that are victims of crime to come forward and report these offences.
  • All forces to substantially increase their fraud investigation capabilities.

By focusing on these key tenets by all PCCs in the months and years ahead, it is hoped that the proportion of UK firms that fail to see the point in reporting crimes against them will be dramatically reduced.

Mr Cherry concluded: "With the average cost of crime to a business now at £5,898, and instances of cyber crime on the rise, there is a real necessity to get a handle on this."