Tackling Business Crime

BIDs & Business Crime: A Manifesto

This Manifesto has been written on behalf of the members of the National Business Crime Solution (NBCS). The NBCS is a not for profit initiative that enables the effective sharing of appropriate data between the police, crime reduction agencies and the business community to reduce crime and risks to all. Discover more about NBCS.  It represents around 50 of the largest major retail interests in the UK.  How are Business Improvement Districts tacking business crime

As the number of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) continues to grow (approaching 300), and funding from the levy businesses pay is estimated to be in the region of £100m a year, there is a desire from the business community to ensure that a reasonable proportion of this is dedicated to tackling business crime.  The funding for these schemes is made because businesses want to create an attractive, safe and secure environment for customers, staff and visitors.

There is a recognition that the scope and scale of BIDs varies enormously; from those that have £multi-million budgets to those that rely on volunteers.  In addition, the budget and resources needed to be dedicated to business crime will vary from place to place.

The overall aim is to make BID areas better trading locations, more attractive to customers and users, and therefore thriving places. There is also a desire from the NBCS to enhance the relationship and engagement between BIDs and many of their levy payers (NBCS members). The business community must be engaged at a local, regional and national level.  The BIDs Foundation, the ATCM and British BIDs all have been consulted as part of the process in drawing up this Manifesto, alongside Revo, the ACS and others.

BIDs have pointed out how the reduction in funding available to local authorities and policing in their areas is causing their businesses to request greater efforts to address safety, security and crime reduction issues. But if BIDs fail to respond to this, it could adversely impact the trading environment and lead to business closures.

Crime comes in many forms and, as the recent BRC report[1] shows, the increases in violence towards staff is a major concern.  Retailers want their staff to be able to work free from fear of threats and violence, which is an increasing priority. Therefore, protecting their staff as well as their stock and premises is a major concern for all business who want a centre that is safe and welcoming throughout the day and night.  Not only that, but finding ways to combat public safety issues such drugs, alcohol, begging and rough sleeping will all have an impact on the trading environment and indirectly affect businesses.

As Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the BRC says,

The [retail] industry is going through a period of unprecedented structural change with increasing cost pressures, and these challenges have heightened the impact retail crime has on jobs, communities and people throughout the UK.

But it’s not just retail that is suffering.  All businesses that operate in our towns and cities are impacted.  At a time when Police numbers are at record lows, the business community recognises that they also have a role to play in putting into place effective measures.  That is why they are supporting Business Crime Reduction Partnerships (BCRP) and, increasingly, BIDs.

This Manifesto is aimed at BIDs in order to ensure that the investment being made by businesses in the 300 BIDs operating in the UK is made in the most appropriate, proportionate and efficient way. 

Embedding Safety & Security into BIDs

The propensity of BIDs to take active responsibility for safety and security, primarily in the retail environment is very mixed.  There are some exemplars, but others assume the responsibility falls to a separate BCRP.  Increasingly, these BCRPs are finding funding very difficult and BIDs offer a secure funding source.

Without being overly prescriptive, it is the right of any retailer, or indeed leisure business or other levy payer, to ask what arrangements are included in the BID business plan that promotes the protection to staff and security of goods.   There is also a recognition that to get the coverage and support required there may need to be a higher levy or top-up in some way.  Either that or a reduction in other activity such as marketing, events etc.  However, there is an expectation that any BID Business Plan will clearly state what it can do, perhaps in partnership or through others, to tackle business crime.

The BID Business Crime Manifesto

This Manifesto is issued on behalf of the members of the National Business Crime Solution (NBCS).

In order for its members to support a BID, it calls for the following to be in place:

  • A statement about the way Business Crime is addressed must be included in the BID Business Plan, either at inception or renewal.
  • This should include the development of a specific strategy to deal with business crime at all times of the day with clearly defined objectives, outcomes and measures of success.
  • Prioritisation should be focused on the crimes that most impact businesses and their staff. It is expected that some research e.g. survey of businesses is undertaken to identify local priorities.
  • A commitment to strengthening of partnerships with businesses, community, police, council and other key agencies
  • This means sharing critical intelligence, operational and security support, as well as opportunities to up skill businesses in order to be able help businesses help themselves
  • Where there is a separate BCRP the relationship, including funding, this should be clear.

It goes without saying that any response should be Revive & Thrive can help with all elements of a Business Improvement District's life and also with business crime reductionproportionate and is best delivered in partnership.  The business community recognise that, locally, they have a part to play in being a part of the solution and are committed to supporting and voting in favour of BIDs that bring forward Business Plans, either at the inception of a new BID or the renewal of an existing BID, that meets the ideals set out above.

Contact Martin Blackwell for more information

Case Study – Great Yarmouth

Now two years into its third five-year term the Great Yarmouth Business Improvement District (gyBID) has made crime reduction initiatives a priority amongst the projects that it delivers on behalf of the town centre BID levy payers.  The BID employs a team of street wardens, operates a town wide radio link, a civil exclusion scheme and a secure database of offenders to help promote community safety whilst reducing vulnerability of retailers to both shop crime and anti-social behaviour.  This is in-keeping with the main priority for the Great Yarmouth Business Improvement District, which has been to promote a safe town centre for both businesses and shoppers since its inception.

The BID also operates the town’s CCTV system on behalf of the local authority, which is staffed 24 hours a day; 7 days a week and provides a link between retailers, street wardens and police through use of the BID’s dedicated radio link. The control room also has a direct radio to Police HQ and transmits live CCTV images directly to their control room. The unique arrangement in the way the town’s CCTV system is managed by the BID has both promoted the involvement of businesses in community safety and contributed to the reduction of business crime. BID Manager Jonathan Newman is convinced that the crime reduction initiatives delivered by the BID are highly valued by the businesses contributing to them via the BID levy “We have had two successful renewal ballots with over 85% of votes cast in favour of continuing the BID and it is clear that the CCTV, street warden and radio link schemes are what many of the BID payers are wishing to see continue when they cast their vote.”

[1] BRC Retail Crime Survey 2017 https://brc.org.uk/media/249703/2017-crime-survey-short-story_fa_63_v11.pdf