New research has revealed that Wigan is the worst-hit area in the UK for business crime. The annual Business Crime Index from AXA identified areas of the country with levels of crime ‘well above average’.
The study found a significant fall in both the number and average cost of business crime in the UK over the last 12 months. This follows two years of rising crime rates.
According to the Index, there was a 14 per cent drop in the rates of business crime and a 13 per cent reduction in the average cost. The most prevalent business crime was theft, which was found to drop by 11 per cent yet still account for around three-quarters of all crime.
Incidents of arson and malicious damage dropped by 15 and nine per cent respectively, a factor which contributed to a 13 per cent drop in the overall cost of business crime.
Across the UK, 73 per cent of postcode regions showed a drop in business crime but the report points out that some regions are experiencing rising crime levels or levels well above average.
Wigan topped the rankings, rising from eighth place 12 months ago, due to a 14 per cent increase in rates of business crime. Hull ranked second, with a 100 per cent increase in rates year-on-year.
Emma Antrobus, policy manager at Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said it was “disappointing” that Wigan was highlighted as a business crime hotspot but was heartened by fact overall levels of crime reported and claimed for had reduced.
She added: “As a Chamber, we encourage businesses to report crime when it occurs to ensure that appropriate resources are directed to resolving the problem, and we know that Greater Manchester Police takes business crime seriously.
“We hope that there will be a strong reaction to this report within Wigan and any issues will be dealt with effectively to ensure that Wigan is not featured in the list again next year.”
Bradford was ranked at number three in the Index as the city was a new entry in the top ten. The West Yorkshire Police has hit back at the findings from the insurance provider, claiming it is not a thorough study into the issue of business crime nationwide.
A spokesperson for the Force said: “It is important to remember this survey only covers businesses insured with AXA and therefore any claims that it shows a wider picture of how crime affects all companies in Bradford are misleading and must be treated with scepticism.
“The company itself claims it covers 25 per cent of the business insurance market nationally suggesting three-quarters of businesses nationwide have not been contacted for this survey.
“Crime is falling in Bradford with figures for business burglaries committed in Bradford South in June 2013 down 12 per cent compared to the same month last year, with a 14 per cent fall in Airedale and North Bradford.
“We do not believe we have a particular problem with business crime in Bradford compared with other areas.”
Douglas Barnett, head of customer risk management at AXA, described the overall figures as “extremely encouraging” and said they should be seen as a “real boost to UK business”.
He said: “It’s difficult to know exactly why there has been a drop in crime this year. It could be a sign of economic recovery, an indication of better prevention measures, or a combination of both.
“But whatever the reason, these figures are extremely encouraging.
“That said, complacency must not be allowed to reverse this trend and we would urge businesses wherever they are based, to do what they can to reduce the risk of becoming a victim in the future.”