Home Office minister Hazel Blears has backed C-Store’s Zero Tolerance anti-crime campaign. In an exclusive interview, Blears, who is minister of state for policing, security and community safety, congratulated C-Store on the initiative, which was launched in 2002. She also revealed that the government was closely tracking two pilot programmes which could lead to crime against business becoming a key performance indicator for police South Wales Police has recently completed a six-month exercise in recording business crime as a separate category, while Greater Manchester Police Force embarked on a similar exercise on April 1. Blears said: “Both forces are now recording as a separate category crime where the business is a victim or an individual is a victim as a result of their employment.

“Before this change, it was only possible to extract data on business crime by querying the location at which the crime occurred. “By introducing a few necessary adjustments to the way the forces record crime, valuable information can be gained which will enable police to determine a range of data, including the types of crime and businesses affected and the response they should receive.”

The move was welcome by the Co-operative Group, which has been working with South Wales Police on the pilot scheme.

Co-operative Group central services general manager Julie Rogers said: “Understanding the true level of business crime is vital if it is to be tackled successfully, so we have welcomed the chance to take part in this exercise.”

Blears urged more small businesses to get involved in their local Crime & Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRPs) but admitted there was still a need for local partnerships to be more pro-active in recruiting retailers from small stores. She also revealed that in the first six months since last November’s launch of the £80 fixed penalty notices for shoplifting, 7,359 had been issued.