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25 September 2019: Chris Caesar discusses ‘Do crime reduction partnerships for businesses really work?’

25 September 2019

A Business Crime Reduction Partnership (BCRP) is the professionalised version of what were once called Shop Watch schemes or Radio schemes. These schemes have existed for quite some time; some operated in partnership with or were run by the local police based around a neighbourhood watch model, whilst others were entirely independent.

For any national retailer they were very much a lucky dip, and with regards to adherence to best practice or indeed outright legality there was no clear guarantee. Ostensibly a Radio scheme just exists to report on what is happening, has just happened or what someone believes is highly likely to happen in the next five minutes.

Whilst this is useful, it doesn’t contribute to building a true picture of retail crime that allows resources to be targeted in the most effective and efficient way.

BCRPs, on the other hand, work in partnership with the police and the local authority to reduce the negative impact of crime and disorder on businesses. They are a civil body in their own right governed by a body elected from its own member businesses. They share information and use jointly agreed enforcement rights to restrict access to premises and enforce self-established civil banning orders.


But do they work?

I’ve lost count of the number of people who tell me that they don’t.

However, often it’s the same people that don’t record incidents, make full use of the database to jointly manage repeat offenders, or engage with the scheme through briefings or partner initiatives.

All crime reduction partnerships, like ours, function best when used properly by those working on the shop floor, including retail staff, security staff, and managers. Our social and economic environment has changed, and so has policing. Unless businesses are willing to change too, they will suffer. In light of ever fewer police resources, Business Crime Reduction Partnerships (or intelligence networks as I prefer to call them) have helped fill the gap for many retail and night-time businesses.

Sharing intelligence, knowledge and resources, as well as working in partnership with each other and other agencies, is the only way to tackle business crime effectively.


By Chris Caesar, Business Crime Reduction Manager for the Portsmouth BCRP

Find more resources for businesses of all sizes here.