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How to prevent and deal with crime in your small business

As the recession continues to bite, levels of crime committed against businesses in the UK have grown by 16% in some areas of the UK, a new study has found. In this article, we give you our tips to protect your business from crime.

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As the recession continues to bite, levels of crime committed against businesses in the UK have grown by 16% in some areas of the UK, a new study has found. In this article, we give you our tips to protect your business from crime.

The most common crime committed against business is theft and the average value of items stolen has risen in the last year to just under £4,000.

Worryingly for small businesses, the number of thefts involving force or violence has also increased and the biggest increase in insurance claims was for arson, not including those which were part of the riots.

In the face of this disconcerting trend, there are a number of things you can do to stay informed about crime in your area, prevent it and can limit damage to your business if the worst happens.

Carry out a risk assessment

Like any potential threat to your business and the safety of your employees, you're advised to carry out a risk assessment to assess the likelihood of crime occurring in your workplace.

This will help you to identify appropriate ways to reduce those risks. Protect your staff If you're an employer, you have a duty of care to protect your staff.

This includes doing what you can to protect them from crime and violence in the workplace. The Health and Safety Executive has produced guidance for managing work-related violence in licensed and retail premises, where workers are particularly at risk.

Employees who work alone are at particular risk of crime. This risk can be reduced with the use of personal alarms, radio link schemes with other businesses, controlled access and CCTV.

Secure your premises

The security features you need in the workplace will depend on the type of business you carry out there, the hours of work and your location (this can be ascertained in the risk assessment), but they may include alarm systems, secure doors and windows including locks, shutters and CCTV.

Make sure you choose security equipment that meets a minimum standard and is supplied from a reputable firm. You can read more about this on the Secured by Design website.

Remove temptation

One way of preventing crime is to reduce the potential rewards of crime or provocation to commit crime. This can include removing stock or large amounts of money from the premises at night, or keeping stock from view.

Find out what's happening locally

Each region of England and Wales has a Community Safety Partnership (CSP), which monitors crime levels and determines which areas will be priorities for enforcement agencies.

You can also get involved in local business crime reduction partnerships, which the police run in conjunction with local business leaders.

These help businesses to share information and find out where to get help.

Speak to other businesses

Find out what other businesses in your area are doing to prevent crime and share information. If crime is on the increase in the area, or a particular person or group of people are causing a nuisance, local businesses could benefit from this knowledge by being vigilant and prepared.

Beware identity theft and fraud

It's important to remember that, in this technological age, not all crimes are so visible.

Online fraud and identity theft are also on the increase leaving your data and that of your customers at risk, so it's important that you consider them as part of your risk assessment.

Businesses that carry out a lot of transactions online or sell online are more at risk than those that don't. For more information on this topic, see Get Safe Online.

Report all crimes

It is important that you report all crimes – no matter how small – to the local police force and that you get a crime number.

This can help police to build up a better picture of crimes in the area and find links between potentially related crimes. A crime number can help you track the progress of your case and is often necessary to be able to make a claim on your insurance.

Create a business continuity plan

If the worst does happen, despite preventative measures, it is best to be prepared and have a plan in place for how you will react. For example, if you were a victim of arson or all of your computer equipment was stolen, how would your business continue to trade?

Part of your continuity plan should also involve regularly backing up data. Losing physical property can be devastating but it is at least replaceable, especially with insurance cover.

But the loss of customer lists, payment details and intellectual property can mean the end for many small businesses.

Get the right insurance

You should also make sure that you get the right cover for your business to protect not only the contents of your premises but also against loss of business. Call the Forum on 0845 130 1722 to find out how we can help you save money on insurance and protect your business.

Source: AXA

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