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Researching business crime makes a difference

Victorian Christmas market at Gloucester Docks. Picture by Clint Randall

Over a five-year period, researchers from the University of Gloucestershire worked with local and national crime reduction agencies to examine crime against high street businesses and approaches to its reduction, in a study entitled ‘Business crime reduction: Transforming policy, practice and training’.

Prior to the University’s work, there had been a lack of academic study concerning the occurrence and impact of crime and associated disorder affecting businesses in retail and entertainment districts; the offending behaviour of those who commit these offences; and the approaches being employed by business crime reduction schemes to tackle such issues. Consequently, UK national guidance on best practice for business crime reduction was not underpinned by rigorous academic evidence and was lacking in a number of areas.

The study included examining business crime reduction partnership (BCRP) activity, and working alongside national organisations, police forces, crime prevention practitioners and businesses, to identify principles of effective crime reduction partnership design and to increase communication, community cohesion, feelings of safety, and information sharing practices within partnerships. These principles now underpin the National Business Crime Centre’s national standards for BCRPs, which are used as an accreditation benchmark for BCRPs across the country.

The business crime reduction study involved: qualitative analysis of almost 150 interviews with businesses involved in the BCRP ‘Gloucester City Safe’; statistical analysis of business crime data; and a survey of over 240 business crime reduction scheme managers across the UK.

The study team’s achievements brought about significant improvements to national and local public policy and services, and brought demonstrable benefits to thousands involved in UK business crime reduction and to the retailers and members of the public who are affected by business crime.

Dr Jonathan Hobson, Associate Professor of Social Sciences, said:

“Our findings were complex and significant. They included that individuals who continued to offend after the receipt of a BCRP’s sanction are more likely to commit further offences at another business location rather than revisit the premises at which they committed their original offence. This offending displacement highlights the importance of information-sharing between Business Crime Reduction Partnership members. It has been very satisfying to work on such a significant piece of research. Find out more about Dr Jonathan Hobson on the University website.