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Policing business crime

Authorised Professional Practice

This page is from APP, the official source of professional practice for policing.

First published
Written by College of Policing
Acquisitive crime
4 mins read

Following consultation by the National Business Crime Centre (NBCC), the National Police Chiefs’ Council has agreed the following definition for business crime:

Any criminal offence where a business, or person in the course of their employment, and because of that employment, is the victim. 

This definition came into effect from 1 June 2019 and forces should use this when assessing local crime data to understand the nature and extent of business crime. This will help to identify trends and allow crime prevention initiatives to be used.

The definition only covers crimes against businesses run as a commercial enterprise because the impact of the crime may affect their sustainability as a going concern. Places of worship and public sector organisations are, therefore, excluded from the definition.

Examples, applying the definition

  • Peter Smith is an SIA-licensed security guard employed by Horizon Security at a local NHS hospital. He is assaulted in the course of his employment. Mr Smith works in a public sector hospital but Horizon Security, his employer, is a commercial business. This is therefore a business crime.
  • PC Nagra is assaulted at work in the course of his duty. Because PC Nagra is employed by the public sector this is not a business crime.
  • Debbie Stevens is a taxi driver. A customer has made off without making payment. Debbie is self-employed and registered as a commercial business, therefore this is a business crime.
  • Mr and Mrs Jones have a domestic argument while at the pub. Mrs Jones assaults Mr Jones. While an offence has been committed, it is not a crime against the business or its employees, therefore not a business crime. If criminal damage is caused to the pub during the assault, this would become a business crime.
  • Jack Frost is assaulted while working behind the bar at Foxy Nightclub because he refused to serve a drunk customer. Jack was assaulted in the course of his employment and because of his employment. This is therefore a business crime.
  • Miss Lane is assaulted by her ex-boyfriend while she is at work. Even though Miss Lane is an employee, she was not assaulted because of her employment. This is not therefore a business crime.

Recording business crime

There is no mandatory recording process for business crime. Some forces, however, do apply a business crime flag to relevant crime and incident reports.

The underlying offence, for example, burglary or assault, should be recorded and investigated in the normal manner and in accordance with local force policy.

Strategic leadership

Businesses are willing to contribute financially to effective business crime partnerships.

Business-funded intelligence collaborations, details of which are on the NBCC website, develop both public and private sector intelligence, maximising the information held by the business community.

Active police involvement in these partnerships will help to make them more effective and encourage business engagement locally.

The NBCC has developed a set of standards for Business Crime Reduction Partnerships (BCRPs) available through its website, as well as additional resources and information about BCRPs and partnership organisations.

The NBCC maintains a list of identified business crime single points of contact (SPOCs) for each police force area. SPOCs are networked nationally to support this work and introduce good practice in their area. Contact the NBCC for your local SPOC.

Force SPOCs should work with business head offices located in their force area to agree common operating procedures, including issues such as timeliness of crime reporting, evidence gathering and the content of witness statements. This will support national work to develop consistent practices for engagement at a local level.

Further information

A business crime community forum is available on the Knowledge Hub (this link is available to authorised users who are logged on to the Knowledge Hub).

The NBCC website is an open forum and an email subscription is available, which provides updates on news and guidance relating to business crime.

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