BCRP Operation, management and good practice

Interesting research conducted by the University of Gloucestershire with recommendations for new and existing Business Crime Reduction Schemes.

Overview 

(Download the full report here)

This report presents the findings of a study into the operation of groups of commercial organisations which come together to reduce the impact of theft, violence, anti-social behaviour and other crimes and associated behaviours on their businesses. 
We refer to such groups as Business Crime Reduction Schemes (Schemes), a term used in this report to include Business Crime Reduction Partnerships (BCRPs), shopwatch schemes, pubwatch schemes, schemes provided by shopping centres for the benefit of their tenants, and other similar operations. 
The report draws upon data gathered through a national survey of Scheme managers conducted between October 2018 and January 2019 to consider the design, focus, management, governance, membership and collaborative activities of Schemes and identify the key characteristics, achievements, challenges encountered and points of best practice concerning their activity. These are presented as key findings throughout the report and as a series of guiding principles for such Schemes included in the Executive Summary. 

Guiding principles for Business Crime Reduction Schemes 

Drawing upon the findings presented in this report, the following guiding principles and points of best practice for Business Crime Reduction Schemes have been identified to assist those designing or managing a Scheme. 
Scheme design, focus and funding 

• When designing or running a Scheme, those involved should consider carefully the most appropriate way to position a Scheme and whether the interests of the public and specific stakeholders will be served best by a Scheme that is part of a BID, affiliated with a particular group of businesses, or is an independent entity. 

• When designing a Scheme, and at regular points following its creation, assessment and consultation should be conducted concerning the needs of a community and the issues that it is affected by and wishes to tackle, and whether these are best served by a Scheme for day time economy traders, for night time economy traders or for businesses that operate during either or both trading periods. A more complete understanding of offending activity in a location can come from involving all types of businesses in a Scheme. 

• Business Crime Reduction Schemes should charge their business members a membership fee that is both affordable yet sufficient for its operation and the provision of adequate services. Articulating and demonstrating the value of Scheme membership will help ensure that members view their membership fee as an effective use of capital. Although funding for Business Crime Reduction Schemes is limited, combining income from multiple sources, such as local authorities, Police and Crime Commissioners and membership fees, can help sustain activity. 

Management and governance 

• When recruiting a Scheme manager, careful consideration should be given to both the remit and duties of the post as well as to the skillset and background of the candidates. This specialist position, which most undertake as a paid full-time role, requires knowledge of the criminal justice and business sectors as well as the skill and ability to work with individuals from either sector. 

• Schemes should be accountable to an appropriate governing group. The involvement of a board of management or steering group is an important part of Scheme accountability and governance and can provide the opportunity to draw upon input from key stakeholders and independent parties. 

• Schemes should ensure that they are adhering to the BCRP National Standards produced by the National Business Crime Centre. Accreditation from the Centre will help ensure that a Scheme is operating appropriately and adhering to relevant frameworks and legislation, such as GDPR and data protection laws, providing essential assurance. 

• Scheme performance measurement is essential for indications of effectiveness and for Scheme improvement. Measurement should include key metrics concerning incidents, offenders and victims as well as feedback from members concerning their views on the Scheme’s performance and their experiences of being involved. 

Scheme members: recruitment, engagement, and information sharing 

• Business Crime Reduction Schemes should provide their members with simple and effective platforms for information sharing. This can be achieved by using a radio system, by using an online reporting system that provides current awareness information to Scheme members, and by providing training to members on their use. 

• For Scheme managers recruiting new members, personal visits, word of mouth and police encouragement can be particularly effective. Advertising the Scheme and articulating and demonstrating the value of membership will also help with this. 

• Close working among business members is crucial for a Scheme’s success, and this can be facilitated through regular visits and one-to-one meetings between members and Scheme managers, through meetings for all members, and regular communication updates. These activities can also help with member retention. 

Working with the police and other stakeholders 

• Business Crime Reduction Schemes should work in partnership with the police. Information sharing, joint meetings, police engagement with Scheme members and promotion of the Scheme, shared radio networks, online reporting/information tools and shared enforcement of sanctions are all part of this. 

• There can be multiple crime reduction schemes operating within an area or within close proximity of each other. Collaboration through information sharing and meeting attendance can help identify unknown offenders and generally improve collective crime reduction efforts. 

• Schemes play an important part in wider community efforts to tackle crime. Collaboration with local council, PCC departments, CCTV departments and other community safety initiatives through meeting attendance, information sharing, and generally supporting agendas and promoting involvement can lead to improved understanding of crime and offending and enhance wider efforts to tackle crime. 

• Scheme’s should, where appropriate, help support broader efforts to tackle offending behaviour such as Restorative Justice programmes, drug/alcohol abuse and dependency programmes, early-intervention programmes, and other social or community projects. This can help support and rehabilitate those who have committed offences but also help tackle some of the issues that might lead to offending behaviour.