Spring into action - and save more than money.
When the National Business Crime Centre (NBCC) was launched last year, its main focus was on helping businesses save costs by preventing crime. After a few months, it’s becoming clear that smart strategies can also save lives.
It’s not an exaggeration. The NBCC has seen several examples of where stopping shoplifting has prevented a violent crime; another where a victim of child sexual exploitation was identified.
It highlights how even the most basic staff training can help prevent the most serious offences. A knife stolen from a shop’s shelf might represent a few pounds of lost revenue to a business, but could lead to a lost life later on. Even something as simple as making sure all the staff know the address of where they work can save valuable time when making an emergency call.
The NBCC exists to offer this sort of support and advice to businesses, sharing good practice, experiences and news from both police forces and industry.
With these months at the beginning of the year being traditionally quiet for most businesses, perhaps it’s the right season to ‘Spring’ into action, making sure your staff are ready to prevent crime and prepared to cope if the worst should happen.
Where should you start? Try and identify the potential risks to your business and staff and think how you can mitigate them. Check the equipment you have is working properly and is being used in the most effective way. Are those CCTV cameras pointing in the right direction? Is there a way for staff to report suspicious activity? Do your employees all know what their responsibilities are?
Make sure it’s clear who should be in charge and run through different scenarios so everyone instinctively knows what to do. It’s a good idea to make sure your contact lists are up-to-date too - many are years old and no one realises until it’s too late!
One incredibly effective way to deter thieves and welcome honest customers is now being used by many major retailers.
Simply adding a ‘Meet and Greet’ person on main entrances to your premises lets customers and visitors know that they have been acknowledged and recognised. In addition to having a psychological effect on potential thieves, having staff ‘on the ground’ means they can spot things which cameras can’t.
Smaller businesses need to be vigilant too, especially if there’s only one person working alone. Ensure anyone on their own knows how to keep themselves and the business safe. Make sure they ‘check in’ regularly with family or colleagues to let them know they are safe and well.
Also think about getting together with your neighbouring businesses to share information and ideas. Is there a business crime reduction partnership (BCRP) in your area? They might be ‘the competition’ but they can also be your best friend, warning of impending trouble and allowing you to pool resources to fight crime and discourage anti-social behaviour.
Recent successful partnerships where information was shared between businesses and the police not only resulted in arrests and recovery of high-value stock but also identified a victim of child sexual exploitation, demonstrating the tangled web of crime. Tackling low level offences often has much bigger implications.
If you need more advice or inspiration then head over to the NBCC website and keep an eye out for news of the events it will be organising throughout the country. Topics will include Violence Reduction, Cyber & Fraud Protection and Rural Crime Prevention. Signing up could save more than just money.
PS Chet Beresford, Metropolitan Police