What are the main challenges you face?
One of the challenges we've got as a sector is making sure that all the crime that occurs against a business is reported into police and in some cases to the business. If police don't understand what the true volume of business crime looks like, how can they appropriately resource for it?
If we don't have the full dataset, how can we lobby to support businesses? That means also providing a full dataset to police, but a significant barrier to that is what we call 'double keying' on the shop floor.
What's double keying?
Let's say I work in a store where an incident has occurred. I'm expected to report into my internal crime management system so my business can see what's going on. Once I've done that, I've got to report either online or to 101. Online can be difficult because often businesses operate on an intranet, meaning that they can't access external URLs. So I've got to call 101, where waiting times can be up to 45 minutes. Then I get through to the call handler, and I spend another 20 minutes telling them what's happened with the offence. By then I've been on the phone for an hour, plus 15 minutes reporting internally. Even if all reports were online, that takes me 15 minutes to complete, so there's a minimum of 30 minutes required regardless.
If I'm a member of a local business crime partnership, I have to report it into their system. That's another 15 minutes. And often, the reports need to go to other places, depending on the business process. So best case scenario, I'm expected to report that three times.
If you're a national retailer, you could realistically suffer from 100,000-plus crimes per annum and be expected to report those three times each. When you do a report to the police, you don't often get any feedback, as it's volume crime and they get a lot of it. You are hesitant to spend time reporting to police when there's likely no particular outcome. And there's a productivity cost, because it takes people off the shop floor to make those reports. Less colleagues on the shop floor increases risk in itself, and you're unable to best serve customers.
Together that creates a huge problem. Police are only really receiving between 5% and 15% of the actual volumes of crime. 85 to 95% of crime has not been recorded.
How do we address that?
We simplify the process. The technology is there. For violent crime, you call 999 and expect a police response. If it's not violent, if there's no threat or fear of violence, then you put the incident report into your internal system and that's automatically shared with the National Business Crime Solution's iNTEL ONE system. We create a link between our software and policing software. So now when you report internally, it automatically pushes the crime into the policing software. It's what we call One Touch Reporting, and it removes the need to call 101 or log into the police Single Online Home. It saves productivity costs, allows you to serve more customers, and police have the full picture of the actual volume of crime being committed.
We're currently running a very successful trial with Sussex Police doing exactly that. There's a very forward-thinking Business Crime Lead and Police Crime Commissioner in Sussex, and we'd love to see other Forces come on board.
It makes sense from a police perspective, too. If they don't have the data, they don't have the full picture, and they can't effectively target resources.
That information is probably useful to your supplier members as well?
It is. The reason we set up our associate membership in the first place was we wanted to put suppliers in front of our member decision makers. We want them to understand what the real issues are for those organisations so that they can tailor their products and services to meet the most up to date needs. If we're working in partnership with our suppliers, our associate members, and with the retailers and the other businesses that we support, then we have a collective approach where products and services have been developed to try to tackle the issue. We're removing offenders through our processes. The retailers are getting better products and services. And the BIDs and the BCRPs give us the opportunity to have thousands of extra eyes across the UK.
Suppliers, retailers, BIDs, BCRPs, transport and distribution companies, including drivers, bring all that together. We put some systemic processes in place, and suddenly, you've got this ring of steel which prevents the crime. And then if we can get the policing bit right on the end of that, making sure that police can get all the business crime data, you've then got a very effective police response, because they're targeting the right areas and the right people.
It allows you to start looking at things more broadly, too...
That's right, identifying the reasons why people are becoming offenders, and trying to tackle those reasons. If offenders are getting stopped by police or ending up in custody suites, at that point there needs to be intervention: is this person at this time right for some type of diversionary action? How can we support them? Is it a drug and alcohol issue? Is it an addiction fuelled issue? This person is caught committing a crime, but are they actually "a criminal"? Or are they a victim?
And if we can identify that, at that point of the process, then they can be referred to diversionary efforts, alternative development efforts, and then we can take them out of the criminal system completely by getting right to the root of the problem. Again, you can't do that unless you have the data. It's sometimes difficult to achieve, but there needs to be a focus on the long-term as well as the short-term wins.