Improve the police response to business crime

The PCC and the Chief Constable recognise the important contribution made by businesses of all sizes. Many businesses in Dorset are small enterprises of few employees or sole traders. If these businesses become victims of crime, it can have a devastating impact on the prosperity of the business and the welfare of owners and staff.

When the PCC was re-elected in 2016, businesses had communicated their frustrations regarding a lack of police focus, engagement and information relating to the crimes that affect businesses the most. Business leaders felt business crime was a low priority for Dorset Police.

The Commissioner therefore committed to raise awareness and the profile of business crime and improve the police focus and engagement with the business community.

To address concerns raised by business owners, the PCC allocated resources to provide a business crime lead within the OPCC to engage with the Force and business leads, improving the focus on business crime. Following discussions with the Chief Constable, a Force Business Crime Champion was appointed to oversee the operational focus and drive improvements across Dorset.

At the beginning of the PCC’s term, there was no overarching business crime strategy to provide the focus for business crime and engagement in Dorset and a decision was made to develop a business crime strategy to prioritise the needs of Dorset businesses.

The OPCC carried out strategy consultation with a wide range of business leads across Dorset, to identify how the OPCC and Dorset Police could improve how it engages and provides information to businesses as well as how crime is reported.

The final version of the Business Crime Strategy was approved by the Dorset PCC and Chief Constable. It provides set priorities, focuses energy and resources, and strengthens operations to ensure everyone works towards a common goal.

Within the Business Crime Strategy the approach is:

  • Connect with the business sector at all levels to understand the community safety issues affecting them
  • Provide a range of opportunities to improve communication and help businesses protect themselves
  • Work with the National Business Crime Centre to develop local schemes to prevent crime, reduce harm, protect the vulnerable and support victims

Supporting this work, a business engagement structure has been established to improve the relationships between the police and local business communities. This has consisted of the development of:

  • A Business Safety Partnership
  • Business Co-ordinating groups
  • Neighbourhood Policing Teams (NPTs) with a strong focus on business crime.

NPTs provide the day-to-day liaison and problem solving while more challenging issues or common themes are escalated to the Business Co-ordinating Groups for consideration and action as appropriate.

The Business Co-ordinating Groups take responsibility for the issues but will escalate issues to the strategic Business Safety Partnership if they are unable to resolve or if issues require a wider partnership or national solution.

The strategic Business Safety Partnership is attended by the Business Crime Champion, the OPCC Business Crime Lead and Lead Dorset business organisations. It also links in with a wide range of local and national bodies.

Underpinning this structure is a range of ongoing activity and interventions that support our local business communities, including:

  • NPT engagement with businesses and the Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) to ensure delivery of consistent crime prevention information, cyber-crime awareness, encourage crime reporting and managing the concerns of business owners.
  • The Rural Crime Team engage and interact with our rural business communities.
  • The dedicated Cyber-Crime Protect and Prevention Officer delivers advice to raise awareness of online risks and measures to mitigate them.
  • Distribution of the ‘Little Book of Cyber Scams’ document – specifically designed to offer advice to Small and Medium Enterprises on staying safe in the cyber world.
  • Promotion and awareness raising of free resources such as the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) online or downloadable training package covering subjects like phishing, passwords, device security and incident reporting.

All of this is in addition to longer standing community initiatives such as Shop Watch, Hotel Watch, Pub Watch, Farm Watch and Horse Watch which all increase engagement, information sharing, intelligence gathering and crime prevention.

A series of themed Business Crime Seminars are also being planned to further increase engagement, awareness raising of key issues and approaches to tackling crime.

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