We’re taking action to keep our county’s businesses safer by targeting specific issues which negatively impact them.
Crime and anti-social behaviour is a major part of that and we work with the businesses themselves, private security firms, local councils, business crime reduction partnerships (BCRPs) and business improvement districts (BIDs) to tackle them.
Business crime officer PC Mike Lee says:
“The main objective of Safer Business Action is to strengthen working relationships between public services and the private sector and solve problems together.”
Last week, he and other members of our Business Crime Team were in Colchester city centre to meet business owners, managers and staff, discuss their issues and to provide advice on security, staff safety and preventing crime from happening in the first place.
In just one day, they visited more than 33 businesses in various sectors to highlight our Open for business, closed for crime campaign, which encourages staff to report all crime and incidents of anti-social behaviour to us.
Their main focus was on the retail sector, looking at how stores can reduce incidents of shoplifting. Mike says:
“We advise them on building security, where to place tills and desirable products, how to eliminate blind spots, to restrict access to non-public areas and what type of shelving and cabinets hinder thieves. “We talk to them about ensuring their staff are visible to customers, which can be a deterrent to shoplifters. “And, of course, we also want to make sure they report crimes and anti-social behaviour to us and can provide us with the best possible evidence to support our investigations.”
Our Open for business, closed for crime campaign was launched in April 2021, when the retail sector was coming out of national lockdown restrictions.
And it has been successful. In the year to 30 November 2023, there was a 22.8% rise in reports of shoplifting, compared with the previous 12 months.
While, during the same period, our officers solved 649 more offences – a 32.6% increase.
In Colchester, our business crime officers were joined by one of our designing out crime officers – who provides specific advice on building security – and Colchester BID staff, while community policing team officers and Colchester City Council neighbourhood wardens were also patrolling the city centre.
Vinnie Geaves is business crime liaison officer for Colchester BID, which represents more than 400 businesses across the city centre. He says it’s ‘great’ our team visits businesses and retail staff in person.
“They really appreciate it and we’ve had some honest conversations. “There has been under-reporting of business crime and anti-social behaviour towards retail staff but we’re working closely with the Business Crime Team and the local police to turn this around. “We want to make sure crime and anti-social behaviour are reported to the police because they could be linked to something far bigger or show us all what issues need to be focused on. “It’s about meeting the police halfway – not doing their job for them but giving them information they need to assist their investigations. “We’ve worked behind the scenes with the council and now the way police can access CCTV footage has improved, which is a great help. “We also promote Colchester Business Against Crime, Townlink radio and the online information-sharing portal so businesses can tell each other and the police what is going on in our city.”
Tell us what you know
What you know could be the missing puzzle piece we’re looking for.
We know that information held by our communities can help us to keep people safe and catch criminals.
We also know that our communities need to trust that we will listen to them and take action when we need to.
Our Police Intelligence page explains what happens when you tell us something you've seen or heard. It explains what to expect and what we need to know when you give us information.
If you see or hear something that doesn’t seem right or causes you concern, we want you to tell us about it.
Our Business Crime Team
Our Business Crime Team specialises in supporting businesses, working to build relationships with independent shops and retail chains, explaining how they can report crime to us and, just as importantly, what will happen when they do.
They help to identify risks in the workplace, providing crime prevention, fraud and cyber-crime advice and strengthening links with businesses and partners, including local community safety partnerships, Essex Chambers of Commerce and the Essex Federation of Small Businesses.
Working with the National Business Crime Centre, the team share nationally-identified crime trends and best practice with our business community. And they have also developed a comprehensive guide to business crime prevention which identifies steps business-owners can take to protect themselves and their properties.