Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner.  
Commissioner's Office: 01707 806100
Business Sense
When it comes to taking on criminals, looking to business isn’t necessarily an obvious step. Many people think of big business and huge multi-national companies when they think of businesses. Giants like Dixons, Amazon and Tesco all have a big presence in Hertfordshire however, the vast majority of businesses in the county are small or medium-sized enterprises, employing one, two or maybe a handful of staff. They don’t always make big bucks – often just enough to support one person or one family – but they are the bedrock of the county’s economy.
 
You might ask, what business do I have in talking about business? Shouldn’t I be more interested in catching criminals? Of course I am interested in catching criminals but that is also exactly why I want to engage companies of all sizes across Hertfordshire. I know that when a crime is committed against a business, it is not a victimless crime.
 
If fact, many small firms operate on such small margins that the difference between a good week and a bad week could be just a few sales, a few hours’ work or a few pounds. So when these businesses lose out because of a crime, it can be devastating for everyone involved.
 
I have stated many times my ambition to bring together businesses in order to prevent crime or anti-social behaviour before it occurs in the first place. It is part of my agenda for active community involvement that I outlined in my Police and Crime Plan for the county, including what I have called “Business Sense”. Not only should police help businesses to prevent crime but the force can learn from business about how to work smarter and more efficiently and businesses can play their part in reducing crime.
 
I recently attended a Constabulary awards ceremony at which it was particularly pleasing to see Special Constable Richard Downs scoop the Rural Officer of the Year Award. He conducts patrols using a 4x4 vehicle that was partly privately sponsored. In many ways, he is the face of local policing to residents in the area he serves and he provides welcome reassurance. This wouldn’t have been possible without contributions from businesses, but they knew that it made sense to get involved and they are now benefiting from his presence. I want every rural area to have a ‘Richard’.
 
Business participation doesn’t have to involve huge sums of money. At a recent “Barn Meet” event held by police and farmers in East Herts, the breakfast buns were supplied by a local firm – a welcome addition given the early-morning start. A new Polaris off road vehicle, paid for by a local resident, was also unveiled which officers will use to tackle criminals off the beaten track.
 
Meanwhile over in Watford, nightclubs and bars have clubbed together to introduce a scheme that checks and records the identity documents of everyone entering the premises. Again, they knew it made sense to get involved because it makes Business Sense – and they are reaping the rewards already with lower reports of crimes on their premises and a boost to trade as a result.
 
The common element is that, with a bit of encouragement, businesses themselves have seen the advantages of each opportunity and then jumped on board. Now they are reaping the benefits.
 
A version of this blog first featured in the Hemel Gazette in December 2013.