A £5m fund for small retailers to buy security devices such as alarms, UV markers or radios and an online assessment tool are part of a new retail crime action plan unveiled by Home Office Minister Alan Campbell today.

The retail crime action plan (RCAP) (new window), which has been drawn up in partnership with the retail industry, details a broad range of actions to tackle crimes against retailers and small businesses. They include:

  • a £5m small retailer grants fund. It will provide grants of up to £3,000 to small businesses in 50 priority areas, to buy security devices such as alarms, UV markers to detect counterfeit notes, security grills or dye packs to mark goods. Partnerships of small retailers can bid for grants of up to £50,000 to help improve a neighbourhood and reduce the risk of crime
  • a risk assessment tool (new window), developed by crime prevention experts, which businesses can complete online to identify simple measures they can take to reduce the risk of crime
  • a competition to find new ways of ‘designing out’ crime opportunities in small businesses, which will be launched in September 2009.

Statement from the Home Office Minister

Alan Campbell said, ‘Small businesses play a vital role in our communities and I am determined to ensure that small businesses are not taken advantage of during these hard economic times, by providing real support where it is most needed.

‘From today we are providing real help to businesses with a £5m fund to pay for improved security in the places it is most needed.

‘The government is committed to working with industry and police to tackle the crimes that affect them such as shoplifting, anti-social behaviour and robbery, particularly during this economic downturn, where certain crimes will face upward pressure.’

Retailers will be able to bid for grants from an external grants administrator to be announced shortly in 50 priority crime and disorder reduction partnership (CDRP) areas. Groups of businesses in a certain area, such as a parade of shops, can also team up to bid for bigger grants of up to £50,000. These can be used to improve a neighbourhood with landscaping or additional lighting.

Statement from the Chief Executive of the Association of Convenience Stores

James Lowman said, ‘This funding will make a practical difference for hundreds of retailers trading in communities. Retail crime is not victimless, causing distress for staff and business owners and costing money that undermines the viability of an important community service.  Helping businesses to prevent persistent crime will benefit the whole community.’

Statement from the National Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses

John Wright, ‘Our research shows crimes against businesses cost small firms around £13,500 each year on average and the disruption and damage they cause must be taken seriously.

‘This new £5m fund will provide vital support for small businesses to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour; to improve security and invest in high streets and shopping districts. We encourage all small businesses that are eligible to take up this support so that they can continue to grow and thrive.’

The retail crime action plan (RCAP)

The RCAP has been developed with the national retail crime steering group (NRCSG) and also includes a commitment to find out more about the crimes which affect retailers by developing a new commercial victimisation study. It will also look at what more can be done to help victims of business crime and encourage work between businesses, the police and CDRPS.

The online tool is available on the Home Office website (new window) and can be completed in 10-15 minutes. Retailers are then given advice on simple things they can do to improve the security of their store and who they can contact for help.

In September, designers will be asked to come up with new ways of eliminating opportunities for criminals to target retailers by designing out crime.

Notes to editors

The areas eligible to bid for grants from the small retailer grants fund are:

  • Middlesbrough
  • Kingston upon Hull, City of
  • Durham
  • Birmingham
  • Blackburn with Darwen
  • Hartlepool
  • Newham
  • Stoke-on-Trent
  • Blackpool
  • Bradford
  • Pendle
  • Leicester
  • Haringey
  • Hastings
  • Oldham
  • North East Lincolnshire
  • Preston
  • Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Barrow-in-Furness
  • Sheffield
  • Wolverhampton
  • Burnley
  • Sunderland
  • Bolton
  • Doncaster
  • Merthyr Tydfil
  • Northumberland
  • Redcar and Cleveland
  • Great Yarmouth
  • Mansfield
  • Walsall
  • Barnsley
  • Blaenau Gwent
  • Derby
  • Coventry
  • Thanet
  • Wigan
  • Rhondda Cynon Taf
  • Wakefield
  • Darlington
  • Kirklees
  • Barking and Dagenham
  • Tameside
  • Waltham Forest
  • Torbay
  • Swansea
  • Norwich
  • Plymouth
  • Portsmouth
  • Lincoln

In February 2009 the Home Office announced a £20m fund to tackle property-related crimes and turn the tables on criminals who seek to take advantage during an economic downturn. A £15m package addressing acquisitive crimes such as burglary and robbery by cracking down on offenders, providing support for victims and crime prevention advice for the public was announced in April 2009.

In July the government issued new tougher guidance on the use of PNDs for shoplifting following consultation with industry and police. The guidance restricts the use of PNDs to first-time offenders. In 2007, 67,600 people were prosecuted for shop theft while 45,100 were issued with PNDs for the same offence.

The small retailers capital grants fund is expected to open for applications in mid-August. Details will be available on the Home Office website in due course.

To request a copy of the retail crime action plan or for more information contact the Home Office press office on 020 7035 3535.

Editorial courtsey of the Home Office

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