Retail and business crime group wins Minister’s ear in post riot talks

Baroness Browning and Mike Weatherley MP discuss retail crime

Baroness Browning and Mike Weatherley MP discuss retail crime

In a bid to develop greater partnership working with the government, the business sector has recently established a Parliamentary group to tackle retail and business crime issues, which has proven particularly timely in the aftermath of the recent rioting.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Retail & Business Crime (APPG-RBC), founded and chaired by Mike Weatherley MP and supported by the National Business Crime Forum (NBCF), invited the new Crime Prevention Minister Baroness Browning to discuss the current deficiencies in protecting businesses against being targeted by criminals. 

The APPG-RBC, welcomed commitments from the Minister to investigate and remedy the fact the Ministry of Justice’s Victims’ Charter fails to recognise businesses as victims of crime – a crucial omission highlighted as wholly inadequate by the recent riots that saw businesses decimated across the country, it said.

The group applauded the Minister’s commitment to ensure the current inaccurate reporting and recording of crime is addressed, whilst fully recognising this will impact the current statistics demonstrating offences committed in shops, for example, has decreased. 

Indeed, the Minister acknowledged it is possible 40% of crimes go unreported, as estimated by the British Retail Consortium’s recent crime survey, said the APPG-RBC.

The Minister suggested businesses do need to be encouraged to report crime where they currently do not; and the way crimes are recorded needs to change to avoid masking problems areas in order that the true scale of crime and its trends can be accurately identified and addressed. 

The Minister also confirmed the responsibility of compiling the statistics on crime have recently been moved from government departments to the  Office of National Statistics to ensure independence as part of the Minister’s commitment to uncovering the true scale of crime. 

The Minister expanded on the importance of understanding the barriers to reporting crime and making reporting crime easier and faster by agreeing to liaise with a new private sector scheme called Facewatch, which has been set up in conjunction with the Metropolitan Police to do just that and is launching live across the whole of the UK at the end of the month. 

Founder of Facewatch, Simon Gordon, said: “As the owner of Gordon’s wine bar, I know the frustrations experienced by businesses in reporting crime. As the founder of Facewatch, I know these frustrations are shared too by the police. I thoroughly welcome the Minister’s invitation to liaise with her and her officials in using my business experience in developing Facewatch to inform her recommendations for change in the way crimes are reported and recorded.”

Chair of the APPG-RBC, Mike Weatherley MP, said: “The riots have demonstrated focusing on preventing and protecting businesses from being the victims of crime has been long overdue. It has been absolutely timely this parliamentary group has formed and the newly appointed Minister for Crime Prevention has stamped her commitment to tackling the issues by coming to address the group in such a thorough, full and frank manner.”

The group was set up expressly to mobilise the backbenches to catch the attention of the Home Office and the Minister to bring about change. 

Chair of the National Business Crime Forum and former president of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, Parminder Singh, said: “I myself am a small shop owner and know well that in recent years the way the government has viewed retail and business crime has been increasingly to relegate it to the realms of ‘victimless crime’. This attitude has permeated the conscience of criminals who have grown increasingly bold in their view they are given carte blanche to target businesses – from the horrific scenes of small shops’ decimated by thieves and arsonists; to large corporations who face the crippling daily occurrence of metal theft. 

“On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of UK businesses represented by the NBCF, I would like to thank the Minister for speaking at such great length and with such forthrightness to the group and finally demonstrating the Government’s commitment to work in proper partnership to say Britain is truly open for business.”