The Force has invested time in building excellent relationships with local businesses and partners, establishing the foundations to work in partnership to reduce business crime in Kent. It ensures a close relationship with the business community through the Business Crime Advisory Group. Organised by the Crime Reduction Project manager this group meets quarterly to ensure a two-way flow of information between the Police and the attendees. The Federation of Small Businesses, the Cyber Resilience Centre, Retail and Business Crime Partnerships and Heritage Watch all attend to give a county picture of business crime.
The latest Business Crime Advisory Group meeting was held at Leeds Castle on 2nd November 2022. The meeting was very well attended and included an input from the Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott. The agenda included inputs from the Police covering the following subjects:
The World cup preparations.
Latest trends in Cyber Crime and Fraud
One of the main objectives of the group is to help businesses prepare for emerging crime trends, and it was felt that a sub-group should be formed to find ways to improve how the group helps Kent businesses pre-empt future trends and developments. The sub-group met in January and will report back to the main group in February.
The latest Business Crime Seminar was held on 12th January 2023. The agenda included an input by a representative from the Victim Support Scheme on Stalking and Harassment and focussed on the important part businesses can play in preventing offences of this nature.
Business Crime Reduction Partnership (BCRP) meetings have assisted in several county and local initiatives since November, some examples are as follows:
Operation Goalie - World Cup initiative jointly funded by PCC and Tunbridge Wells BCRP, included engaging with customers before and after the games and providing additional security staff to assist licensees.
Operation Blitzen – Christmas Shopping campaign, included additional security patrols, high visibility cover to shops, car parks and open spaces.
Operation Heart – VAWG included safety surveys in high-capacity venues, distributing safety aids such as Stop Topps stay safe cards promoting Ask Angela.
Several BCRPs took part in the Neighbourhood Policing week of action between 23rd and 28th January 2023. This included Gravesend where a high visibility street meeting/briefing was held between the BCRP, security staff, Police, and retailers as a deterrent to potential offenders. Gravesend BCRP are also active participants in Gravesham’s Safe Space Project and have now trained over 30 people and have 12 public facing premises which have agreed to take part.
All BCRPs have websites with a secure database to record member information and intelligence providing enhanced analytical data, proportionate data-sharing with other BCRPs and ultimately third-party reporting of crime.
Best Bar None
Best Bar None helps customers to identify well-run pubs, bars, clubs, and other businesses that serve alcohol. It is supported by the Home Office, the drinks and hospitality industries and the accreditation assesses against four themes:
Venue management - assesses security measures and steps taken to reduce noise, litter, and other effects the business may have
Staff training and care - considers how staff are supported by the business to perform their role, develop, and grow, and to protect their wellbeing
Customer safety and welfare - reviews how well the venue takes care of its customers including preventing alcohol being sold to those under the age of 18
Customer service and community - recognises that businesses work hard to provide a warm welcome to their customers and the communities they are part of
Accreditation lasts for a year and the assessment is regularly updated to ensure current priorities, such as the safety of women and girls, are included. Best Bar None was rolled out throughout Kent during 2022 and approximately 60 premises have been assessed and reached the required standard of accreditation. More assessments are planned for 2023.
Heritage Watch continue to send out alerts and crime information to members through the 24-hour helpline. This ensures that members are kept aware of crime trends not only in Kent but neighbouring counties. The group held their annual conference at Leeds Castle on 16th January 2023 attended by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Kent, Bill Cockcroft. The conference was well attended with displays from specialist security and insurance companies. Agenda items included advice and guidance to heritage sites relating to:
Flood and fire recovery plans.
The forthcoming Protect Duty (Martyn’s Law)
English Heritage (national update).
Latest members to the group include Kent and Sussex Railway who will represent steam railways in the county.