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East Midlands Chamber News

We must put criminals out of business

Latest figures from the East Midlands indicate that crime continues to be one of the key issues affecting business; denting confidence in investment, expansion and damaging staff morale.

According to a national survey, which includes contributions from Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber, 34.7 per cent of companies in the region said crime had disrupted trading and 12.9 per cent had lost business as a result.

Of more concern was that 60.7 per cent believed the level of crime had a negative effect on inward investment; 70.9 per cent said it affected decisions on where to locate; and 56.1 per cent said it was detrimental to expansion.

Chamber chief executive George Cowcher said: "The findings for our region are far from gloomy, but we cannot ignore the direct cost to business which, according to figures from the British Chambers of Commerce, has gone up nationally by one fifth in the past four years.

"Moreover, this cost is probably insignificant compared to the unseen damage to how a location is perceived. Why would anyone willingly set up where they might expect criminal damage or other nuisance on a regular basis?"

Researchers calculated the national cost of crime against business has risen by 20 per cent since 2004, from £10.5bn to £12.6bn. Many East Midlands firms said they didn't report crimes for a number of reasons: they were too trivial (65.9 per cent); they had no confidence in the police response (43.1 per cent); too time consuming (32.5 per cent) their insurance premiums would go up (22.8 per cent).

Attempts to persuade the Home Office that business crime should be collated as a separate category and made part of key performance indicators for the police have met with little success.

The Chamber believes the way forward is to build on partnerships between police, business and other interested bodies. Mr Cowcher said: "Over half our businesses have experienced some form of crime over the past year, yet the trend appears to be that they are less willing to report it.

"The survey found that the vast majority (76.5 per cent) are unaware of community safety and crime and disorder reduction partnerships, yet there is a lot being achieved that is of direct practical help in reducing crime. It's clear there is a great deal of work to be done in getting our message over."

The Chamber has good relations with constabularies in both Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, and will be investigating ways in which partnerships between police and business can be enhanced and promoted.