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Business crime reduction scheme study

What does good look like, in a business crime reduction schemes, whether Business Crime Reduction Partnerships (BCRPs), shopwatch and pubwatch schemes, or schemes provided by shopping centres for the benefit of their tenants? That was the subject of a study, ‘An examination of operation, management and best practice’ by the University of Gloucestershire criminologist, Dr Andrew Stafford. You can also download the document from the NBCC (National Business Crime Centre) website.

Last winter he surveyed Business Improvement District (BID) or shopping centre and mall crime reduction schemes, and independent schemes such as a BCRP, shopwatch or pubwatch, for day time or night time economy traders, or broad multi-sector BCRPs. Most ran on funding from members and carried out a sanction policy (such as a banning or exclusion scheme), used retail or pub radios, provided training to members, and used an online reporting system to provide awareness information to members.

A board of management or steering group oversaw almost all the schemes in the sample. Most stated that their performance was measured, but very few stated that they were using surveys or gathering feedback from their members as part of this. Respondents stated that collaboration and information sharing were key to success.

The survey suggested that success took close working among members, whether visits, word of mouth or police encouragement as ways of attracting new members, and regular visits, meetings for members and communication updates for retaining members and encouraging engagement. The membership fees, vacant high street units and high occupancy turnover, businesses assessing risk as low and concerns over data sharing and the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) were all cited as harming scheme membership.

Roughly half of the sample stated that their scheme shared information about offenders with other crime reduction schemes, to help identify unknown offenders. Most schemes worked with their local police and council, with local public space CCTV, or with a community safety initiative. Schemes also joined in broader efforts to tackle offending behaviour such as restorative justice, drug/alcohol abuse and dependency or early intervention programmes, and other social or community projects.

On the bugbear for retail chains happy to pay towards such schemes – if they can see value for money, the report notes the BCRP National Standards produced by the National Business Crime Centre. Accreditation from the NBCC will help ensure that a Scheme is operating appropriately and adhering to relevant frameworks and laws, such as data protection.

The survey found schemes in all shapes and sizes, whether part of a BID or not, or varying in terms of what crime and disorder, alcohol-related or not, they seek to address. University of Gloucestershire also recently published research by students into their local scheme, Gloucester City Safe.


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