Chesterfield businesses encouraged to take up free membership of crime-fighting partnership.

Chesterfield businesses can now access free membership of crime-fighting partnership run by East Midlands Chamber and Derbyshire PCC after funding from Chesterfield Borough Council.

Up to 2,000 businesses in Chesterfield and Staveley can now sign up for free to an East Midlands Chamber-run scheme that helps to reduce town centre crime and anti-social behaviour – as new figures show the cost of crime is rising for retailers.

Starting this month, retailers, hospitality venues and other companies can access Disc, an online crime information-sharing system that connects businesses with local police forces, as part of the Derbyshire Business Crime Reduction Partnership (BCRP).

The BCRP, which is run in partnership with Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Angelique Foster, secured funding from Chesterfield Borough Council to roll out the scheme, which usually costs up to £100 to join, at no cost for the first 12 months in a bid to maximise its effectiveness by encouraging more businesses to join the 80 current members.

It follows the launch of the Love Chesterfield campaign by the council and Destination Chesterfield last month to support the town’s retail, hospitality and leisure sectors as national lockdown eases.

Jackie Roberts, BCRP manager at the Chamber, said: “Businesses in town and city centres have struggled during the pandemic and crime will only make this worse, so it’s important to have a safe town centre to attract people back after lockdown.

“The Disc portal is an integral part of crime reduction strategies as it makes it so much easier for businesses to share intelligence about incidents and offender images between members, police, community safety officers and other partners such as the BCRP team.

“We’ve had a lot of reports during lockdown because police resources have been really stretched due to Covid, so the BCRP fills the gap where police can’t deal with petty crime.

“By working with local authorities such as Chesterfield Borough Council, we’re delighted to offer this scheme for free to businesses in order to make them more resilient – a key theme during the post-Covid economic recovery.”

New Derbyshire PCC and Chesterfield Borough Council support BCRP

The British Retail Consortium’s 2021 Retail Crime Survey, published last week, found there were 455 violent or abusive incidents towards staff per day nationally in 2019/20 – up 7% from the previous year.

The total cost of crime has also risen from £700m in 2016/17 to £1.3bn in 2019/20 – with customer theft the most significant, costing companies £935m – while the cost to retailers of crime and crime prevention was £2.5bn last year, an increase of 14% on the previous 12-month period.

Councillor Dean Collins, Chesterfield Borough Council’s cabinet member for economic growth, said: “This project will help strengthen the link between business and the police, which in turn will help tackle crime and anti-social behaviour in our town to encourage more people to visit Chesterfield and give local businesses the boost they need.

“I want to encourage every local business to sign up to this programme because I believe it will be a positive step for our town. It shows how we can work together to build a thriving borough.”

Benefits of widening BCRP for gathering intelligence

Jackie added: “The hope is that by signing up businesses for the first year, they will be able to see the benefits of continuing with the scheme thereafter.

“The more businesses that are involved in the BCRP scheme and sharing information, the stronger it will be – and the better the area will be as a result.

“Councils and regeneration teams are placing crime reduction high on the agenda in order to bring back footfall into their towns.

“It also removes barriers to reporting crime as the Disc system automatically notifies the police when an incident is logged, while police are able to input feedback so businesses can follow what happens to offenders.”

Anyone interested in discussing how to get involved with the Derbyshire Business Crime Reduction Partnership can email jackie.roberts@emc-dnl.co.uk.