Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) has underlined the “critical importance” of business crime protection and called for more recognition of the effects of retail crime.

Speaking at an Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) ‘Security Showcase’ conference in Stoke-on-Trent on Wednesday, Matthew Ellis promised to share information of best practice in Staffordshire at a national level and said police “need to get better at understanding the issue”.

“Local businesses are the backbone of our society and the mainstay of the British economy. They are the fabric of our community and we need to help them remain in business by preventing business crime,” he said.

“As well as discussing the issue with my colleagues across the country, I have given the ACS assurance that they will be able to address their concerns at a national level.

“Police absolutely have to attend retailer crime. It takes 9.2 seconds on average to answer the call and 85 percent of the time police arrive on time – but more needs to be done.”

On average, convenience stores spend £4,242 on crime protection measure each year, according the ACS Crime Report 2018, but Ellis highlighted how retail crime can have a more damaging effect on the business and staff.

“Small damages to large companies, such as shoplifting, can cause major losses to a small business and more destructive crime, such as a theft or burglary, can sometimes cost a business everything,” Ellis added.

“Business crime can also have a psychological effect on retailers when you get these low lives coming into stores trying to ruin a business.

“I have currently commissioned a piece of work to re-draft the joint Business Crime Strategy for a re-launch in spring next year. This will have a clear focus on prevention, enabling business owners to recognise the potential damage from these crimes and the measures they need to take.”

A number of initiatives have been commissioned to support the Staffordshire business community, with almost 6,000 businesses already signed up to receive SMART Alerts about business crime matters, getting business specific and targeted information quickly and effectively, he said.

Through the Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce, victims of crime are referred for specific advice on increasing their security and what support mechanisms are available to them as a business.

“Staffordshire Police take business crime far more seriously than when I first arrived, but it is a difficult environment,” Ellis added.

“I cannot deny that the financial situation isn’t making it difficult and it isn’t about to get easier for police.

“There are still big stores getting rid of security altogether in an attempt to save money, but I’m bringing police and fire together to give more money to the front line.”