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Business Crime in the UK – What sectors are most at risk

Learn which sectors are most at risk of UK business crime

There’s an old saying that “crime doesn’t pay”, unfortunately, the actual crime figures say otherwise. Across England and Wales, over half of police-reported crimes are closed without prosecution. In other words, the criminal gets away with it.

This, of course, raises the question of how many crimes go unreported because they aren’t worth claiming on insurance so businesses don’t bother to go through the hassle of reporting the matter to the police.

There is, however, another old saying, which businesses are recommended to note – forewarned is forearmed. If you know what the issues are (and where they are), you can take steps to manage them. With that in mind, here is a brief overview of the business crime figures across England and Wales in 2018/2019 from from security experts Newgate.

England and Wales overall

In 2018/19, the police investigated 598,330 business crimes. The term “business crimes” includes offences like shoplifting, burglary, robbery, theft by an employee, making off without payment and theft from an automatic machine or meter. In 347,961 cases (58%), the case was closed without a suspect being officially identified.

The good news is that 374,395 (62%) of these crimes were shoplifting, another 83,032 were cases of making off without paying and there were 9,835 thefts by employees. Most of the other crimes were burglaries against commercial properties (109,391) and attempted burglaries (16,886). There were also 8,256 robberies and 4,050 thefts from an automatic machine or meter

Only 37 cases related to aggravated burglaries, i.e. burglaries in which the criminal has a weapon. In other words, while these crimes may be stressful both mentally and financially, they rarely involve violence or physical threats.

In percentage terms, Cleveland, Humberside and Northumbria were worst-hit

Cleveland had 1,948 business crimes for every 100,000 people, Humberside had 1,567 business crimes for every 100,000 people and Northumbria had 1,532 business crimes for every 100,000 people. While these might seem surprisingly high, it’s worth noting that Cleveland includes Middlesbrough, Humberside includes Hull and Northumbrian includes Newcastle.

These are now all fairly major leisure destinations, with a lot of retail outlets and so it’s probably hardly surprising that they have issues with business crime, especially shoplifting.

In absolute terms, London, Birmingham and Greater Manchester were worst-hit

This one will probably surprise absolutely nobody. These are all large areas with high population density and a lot of businesses, especially retailers. Realistically, you would expect there to be extensive problems with business crime in general and shoplifting in particular. What might, however, come as a surprise is just how often the perpetrators get away with it. In both Birmingham and Manchester, three-quarters of cases were closed without prosecution.

This suggests that businesses in these areas are probably placing too great a degree of reliance on police, who have many other matters with which to deal and for whom, therefore, business crime is usually a low priority because, thankfully, it tends to be non-violent.