Policing business crime

The national policing lead for business crime reduction working with the National Business Crime Forum (NBCF), the Home Office, and the National Retail Crime Steering Group (NRCSG), chaired by the minister for crime prevention, have agreed the following definition for business crime.

Business crime is any criminal offence that is committed against a person or property which is associated by the connection of that person or property to a business.

This definition will come into effect from 1 April 2015.

The approach reflects the existing definitions for domestic abuse and hate crime. This means that the victim will determine whether or not the crime has had an impact on a business and, therefore, whether it should be identified as a business crime. This removes any ambiguity about how the crime should be recorded.

Recording requirements

Police officers and staff should understand that business crime is an additional crime category and the actual offence committed should still be recorded and processed in the normal manner and in accordance with force policy.

Not all business crime will be immediately identified as such by the victim or others. For example, an assault in a nightclub might not be identified as a business crime by the victim because they are more likely to perceive it as a personal attack, eg, motivated by domestic abuse or hate related hostility.

Irrespective of the nature of the offending, if the offence took place on business premises it should additionally be recorded as a business crime. This is because criminal offending of any type on business premises may have a negative impact on the business, eg, increased insurance premiums or, as in the case of the nightclub assault, adverse impact on whether the nightclub’s license is renewed (eg, too many assault have taken place at that venue).

A strategic approach

The police and the business community cannot address business crime issues by working separately. Collaboration and partnerships enable a more comprehensive intelligence picture to be developed, thereby helping to reduce demand and support a more effective policing response.

Public and private sector stakeholders are working together to address business crime. Business funded intelligence collaborations, such as the National Business Crime Solution (NBCS), develop both public and private sector intelligence. This will enable the police service to maximise the potential of information held by the business community. Businesses are willing to contribute financially to effective partnerships but these must support a simplified and effective response to business risk.

Local business crime partnerships are, to a degree, effective but operational differences inhibit a standardised national response to identified risks. Issues, such as locally agreed data sharing agreements, frustrate the ability to raise national awareness about organised crime groups (OCGs) or a specific mode of criminal activity (modus operandi). Local business crime reduction partnerships may cost a national chain store up to £500,000 annually, and while some partnerships are well managed and effective, some are not and so do not represent good value for money.

The current model is national businesses are now withdrawing from less effective partnerships. For policing, any partnership is better than no partnership. If the police work with business partners, they can capture the best aspects of existing partnerships and assist failing partnerships to improve. This can encourage continued business engagement locally and enable better national information and intelligence sharing.

The national policing lead is currently working with business partners to develop the evidence base to support common national standards, for example, a standardised data sharing agreement for national application. This includes an evaluation of an existing national pilot agreement between the police service and the Co-operative Society.

The national policing lead has also identified a business crime single point of contact (SPOC) in each police force area. These SPOCs are networked nationally to support this work and local introduction of the business crime definition.

Force SPOCs are working with business head offices located in their force area to agree common operating procedures. These common procedures will consider issues such as the timeliness of crime reporting, the manner in which evidence is gathered and the content of witness statements. This will support national consistency for engagement with the police at a local level.

Early academic evidence suggest that such partnerships are able to demonstrate less crime, better intelligence sharing and more effective arrangements for evidence capture and dissemination.

Frontline benefits

The adoption of the definition and nationally agreed model will allow officers to work with their local partnerships in a consistent way. This will improve performance and crucially demonstrate to businesses the added value of their agreed single approach to business crime. This consistency is fundamental to improved efficiency for both business and policing, and will assist the national exchange of quality intelligence to prevent and detect crime.

Learning resources

Business crime presentation and suggested lesson plan (this link is available to authorised users who are logged on to the Knowledg Hub.

Further information

Resources are currently under development and will be made available as they are developed.

A community forum is available on the Knowledge Hub Business Crime Community (this link is available to authorised users who are logged on to the Knowledge Hub).

Page last accessed 27 February 2020