Crime wave across rural Britain: Disc can help…

Crime wave across rural Britain: Disc can help…

Agriculture sector insurer NFU Mutual has reported that the cost of rural crime rose by 20% in 2022, reaching a total of £49.5m based on the company’s claims statistics.

NFU Mutual puts much of the rise down to a combination of world events, such as the war in Ukraine, plus domestic issues such as the cost-of-living crisis and high inflation, which have led to the emergence of illicit markets in rural equipment and more activity by both organised and opportunist criminals.

Limited supply of new plant and machinery and rising second-hand prices have lead to a significant increase in thefts of equipment from farms.  Sophisticated – and portable – GPS equipment used increasingly by arable farmers, is in strong demand, and NFU Mutual reports that the higher levels of thefts of such devices experienced in 2022 has doubled in the first few months of 2023.

Soaring prices in the second-hand market helped explain a 66% rise in trailer thefts and a 34% rise in quad-bikes and all-terrain vehicles in 2022 compared to the previous year.

The NFU Mutual recommends farmers take protective measures to guard against rural crime, including locking-up valuable or portable machinery, installing CCTV and marking equipment. 

Sharing information about travelling offenders reported in the vicinity, as well as other timely information is critical too, enabling farmers to ‘target harden’ their property.  More and more Farmwatches, as well as police-led rural business crime reduction schemes are using Disc to bring rural business together to share current awareness, enable incident reporting direct to police and view images of known offenders and stolen equipment and vehicles.

For more on the benefits of Disc for rural crime reduction, contact us at

Government policy on shoplifting needs BCRPs if it is to succeed

Government policy on shoplifting needs BCRPs if it is to succeed

As part of the government’s policy on driving down crime – and appealing to voters, of course – it will oblige all police forces in England & Wales to investigate every report of crime they receive, including shoplifting.  But tinkering around on the tip of the shoplifting iceberg will do little to reduce low-level crime unless the government’s policy factors-in local business crime reduction schemes.

Many forces have been accused of effectively de-criminalising so-called ‘low-level’ crime which they see as either victimless or of negligible monetary value, or both. According to The Times, police will be required to investigate every crime where there is a ‘reasonable’ lead. And now, in addition, the government plans to introduce a crime and justice bill which will mandate tougher sentences for several offences, including shoplifting, and oblige courts to impose custodial sentences on repeat offenders.

Figures from the police themselves show that in the 12 months to March 2023 they recorded 339,206 cases of shoplifting, of which only 14% resulted in a charge. And this is only the tip of a much, much bigger iceberg.  The British Retail Consortium estimates there are, in fact, around 8 million cases of shoplifting each year – a figure which is, itself, a substantial underestimate.

A commitment by police to investigate every report of shoplifting won’t, by itself, make much difference to the level of prosecutions – charge rates will depend, as before, on the evidence available. Existing CCTV, supported with more and better identification evidence from facial recognition systems, and new emerging technologies such as AI, may help policing to process more such cases to prosecution.

But increasing the level of prosecutions, and of custodial sentences, obviously places much, much more strain on the courts, and the prison service too –  both of which are notoriously overworked and under-resourced. When the unstoppable force meets the immoveable object, something has to give.  If the past is anything to go by, it will be these commitments.

The answer, or an important part of it, is for police and government to support effective ways of preventing early-stage offenders from becoming  repeat or prolific offenders in the first place.  That’s where local business crime reduction schemes, especially those running banning schemes, can play an invaluable part.

Such organisations, running two-card or similar banning schemes, have been proven to reduce re-offending by first-time offenders by 75%.  Research shows (read it here) that, where a ‘Warning’ card has been issued to an offender reported for the first time for low-level shoplifting and similar offences, only one-in-four are ever reported (and subsequently excluded from all the stores participating in the scheme) for a further such incident.

By all means implement a policy that requires police to investigate every report of low-level shoplifting they receive, and puts more repeat offenders behind bars. But an approach by police and government alike that recognises – and supports – local business crime reduction schemes is an essential part of making such a policy successful.

New £60m Safer Streets Fund: apply now!

New £60m Safer Streets Fund: apply now!

The government has announced the latest, fifth, round of its Safer Streets Fund, amounting to a record £60m to be spent on tackling antisocial behaviour and reducing neighbourhood crime across England & Wales.

Since the first Safer Streets Fund was launched in 2020, the scheme has disbursed a total of £120m into a wide range of projects including many aimed at reducing low level business crime and ASB including CCTV and streetlighting, public guardianship initiatives, and local business crime reduction schemes.

A number of local authorities have successfully applied for Safer Streets funding to support local business crime reduction initiatives, including the deployment of Disc across urban boroughs and non-urban district councils.

The funds will be channelled through the 43 Police & Crime Commissioners in England & Wales (including MOPAC In London) each of which will have £1.4m to spend, and to whom applications for funding should be made. Applications are welcome from any organisation or individual including those already active in neighbourhood-level crime prevention including existing business crime reduction schemes.

Announcing the new round, Home Secretary Suella Braverman (pictured) said the government remained committed to preventing and reducing crime “and ensuring the public is better protected across all parts of the country; every crime matters, every victim matters and every neighbourhood matters. To that end, the Safer Streets Fund is central to the Government mission of levelling up”.

Eleven new Disc systems…

Eleven new Disc systems…

We’re delighted to announce another eleven new Disc systems in BIDs and business crime reduction schemes around the UK, and a new customer for our Disc Administration Service.

In Leicestershire we welcome Ashby de la Zouche and Melton Mowbray BIDs who join Leicester City Watch, Highcross Shopping Centre and Hinkley BID to make up a total of five Disc customers across the county.  And Hinckley, previously a user of Disc to support its night-time economy, has signed up for a second Disc system to help reduce retail-related crime in its day-time economy too.

Another existing customer – Peterborough BID – has invested in a second Disc system to support its nighttime economy alongside its existing Disc system currently supporting its retail levy-payers.

In addition to these, existing customers Kings Lynn, Falmouth, Penzance and Worcester BIDs have all signed up for second Disc systems, in each case to support their respective nighttime economies. 

In Warwickshire, we welcome Rubery & Redditch Shopwatch who have signed up for a Disc ‘SC’ system to support a new business crime reduction scheme in Rubery and, in time, other such schemes across the area.

Staying in the nighttime economy, we’re delighted that Night Time Economy Solutions (NTES) has selected Disc as its crime reduction platform in Bruce Grove in the London borough of Tottenham.  

We’re also delighted to confirm that Horsham District Council in West Sussex has taken a Disc ‘SC’ system to support business crime reduction across the area.  Horsham has also chosen our Disc Administration Service (DAS) to manage the day-to-day running of its Disc system.  Hinkley BID is also using DAS to look after its new daytime Disc system.

Retail staff demand banning schemes as violent crime increases

Retail staff demand banning schemes as violent crime increases

While the Association of Convenience Stores reports increases in violent crime on its members, shop workers demand more banning schemes to protect themselves.

Every year the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) researches its members’ experiences of crime in and around their premises.  Its 2023 report makes for grim reading.  After a dip during the Covid pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis has seen incidents rise to unprecedented levels with its members suffering over 41,000 cases in the 12 months to March 2023, of which 13% resulted in physical injury. Incidents of verbal abuse rose, says ACS, to an estimated 750,000 in the same period.

Meanwhile, the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) survey of its members conducted in 2022 asked them what more their employers should do to protect them from violent crime.  Top of the list was ‘More management support’.  The next priority, in their view, was the use of banning schemes – even more important to them than deploying more security staff.

The ACS research also shows – as it has done year after year – widespread dissatisfaction with police and their response to low-level business crime such as shoplifting and anti-social behaviour. More than four-out-of-five of its members were ‘dissatisfied’ with their performance across a number of metrics.  In the case of consistency of police response, investigation of incidents, presence of police in the community and the ease of reporting crime to the police, less than one-in-ten expressed satisfaction.  Not surprisingly, ACS estimates that only 16% of such incidents are actually reported to them (our experience at Disc strongly suggests a substantially lower proportion).  

All this is in spite of 39 out of 42 Police & Crime Commissioners referencing business crime as a priority in their annual Police & Crime Reports.

None of this comes as a surprise.  What it clearly shows is the need for a clearer understanding of the importance of banning and exclusion schemes, and a commitment from police to work more closely with those that already exist, and to help local business communities to create them.  As research has shown – you can read it here – such schemes have a clear and substantial impact on reducing low-level crime and ASB in our towns and city-centres, at virtually no cost to policing.

Driving down crime, encouraging engagement, and supporting GDPR compliance

Driving down crime, encouraging engagement, and supporting GDPR compliance

North Notts Business Improvement District was the first BID to cover an entire area instead of just a town- or city-centre, or a specific industrial estate. Today it is driving down business crime right across the district, with the help of Disc SC.

Driving down business-related crime and anti-social behaviour was a priority in the BID’s first term from 2017 to 2022 and continues to be in its current term, to 2027.

Project Coordinator for the BID is Jeanne Meggs: “The North Notts Business Crime Reduction Partnership (NNBCRP) was formed in June 2019, and we implemented Disc at the start of the following year to support our Pubwatch and Shopwatch schemes in Worksop and Retford…

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