When it comes to taking on criminals, looking to business may not be an obvious step.
Many people think of big business and huge multinational companies when they think of businesses.
Giants like Dixons, Amazon and Tesco all have a big presence in Hertfordshire – but 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, but that is exactly why I want to engage companies of all sizes.
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. When they lose out because of a crime, it can be devastating.
I have stated many times my ambition to bring together businesses in order to prevent crime or anti-social behaviour before it happens in the first place.
It is part of my agenda for active community involvement outlined in my police and crime plan, including what I call ‘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.
At a recent constabulary awards ceremony, it was good to see officers from Dacorum being recognised for their excellent work, including PC David Oram and Special Constable Nigel Lacey.
It was particularly pleasing to see Special Constable Richard Downs, well known to me and many other Flamstead villagers, scoop the Rural Officer of the Year Award.
He conducts patrols in a 4x4 vehicle that was partly privately sponsored. To many on his beat he is the face of local policing and 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. At a recent ‘barn meet’ in East Herts, 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.
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 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 have seen the advantages of each opportunity and then jumped on board. Now they are reaping the benefits. Business sense just makes sense!
David Lloyd is the police and crime commissioner for Herts. You can find out more about his work online at www.hertscommissioner.org or contact his office on 01707 806100