News Column

Business Crime Rates Drop by 14 Per Cent

Jul 17 2013 12:00AM



LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM -- (Marketwired) -- 07/17/13 -- AXA's annual Business Crime Index, which monitors the levels of crime committed against UK businesses, shows that after two years of rising crime rates, the last twelve months have seen a significant fall in both the number and average cost of business crime.

Highlights of the index reveal:

-- 14 per cent drop in rates of business crime-- 13 per cent drop in average cost of business crime-- theft, the most common type of business crime, down 11 per cent-- arson and malicious damage levels down 15 and nine per cent respectively-- three quarters (73 per cent) of postcode regions show a drop in crime-- Wigan tops regional chart of worst hit areas

AXA, one of the UK's largest business insurers with around 25 per cent market share, compiles its index based on the claims records of its customers on an annual basis.

During 2013, all categories of crime monitored by the AXA index saw a fall in levels aside from deception and trickery which recorded a very slight increase.

The most common crime committed against business remained as theft in 2013, accounting for around three quarters of all crime. However the rate of thefts has dropped by 11 per cent year on year while those involving violence has dropped by 10 per cent. The average cost of theft claims remains similar to 2012 at just under GBP 4,000.

But while average theft costs were steady, a 13 per cent drop in the overall cost of crime was seen as a result of the average costs for arson and malicious damage both dropping by over 25 per cent.

In addition the riot claims, seen in summer 2011 and which accounted for some of the rises in crime and larger average costs last year, have not been repeated.

Research(1) carried out by AXA among business owners suggests that their attitude reflects the current situation with 85 per cent stating that they are either less worried or no more worried about the threat of crime to their business than a year ago.

Regional Hot Spots

Despite the overall picture being positive there are still some areas of the country experiencing rising crime levels or levels of crime well above average. The table below shows the postcode regions with the highest rates(2) of business crime across the UK for each of the last three years.

This year, 2013, as in previous years, many of those in the top ten are a reflection of areas in the country that have been hit hard by the effects of recession.

----------------------------------------------------------- TOP TEN AREAS FOR BUSINESS CRIME BY POSTCODE REGION----------------------------------------------------------- 2010/2011(i) 2011/2012(i) 2012/2013(i)-----------------------------------------------------------1 Walsall Halifax Wigan-----------------------------------------------------------2 Wolverhampton Telford Hull-----------------------------------------------------------3 Coventry Oldham Bradford-----------------------------------------------------------4 Derby Luton Newport-----------------------------------------------------------5 Oldham Doncaster Oldham-----------------------------------------------------------6 Telford Dudley Telford-----------------------------------------------------------7 Milton Keynes Wolverhampton Wakefield-----------------------------------------------------------8 Dudley Wigan Salisbury-----------------------------------------------------------9 Lincoln Walsall Sheffield-----------------------------------------------------------10Wigan Bolton Blackpool-----------------------------------------------------------

(i) beginning June to end May

-- In 2013 Wigan has risen from eighth to first place with a rise in rates of crime claims of 14 per cent-- Meanwhile last year's number one, Halifax, has dropped to 42nd place with a 56 per cent reduction in rates of crime-- Seven of those in this year's top ten were new entries with Hull in at number two with the highest rise in crime rates across the country at 100 per cent. Other newcomers this year were Bradford, Newport, Wakefield, Salisbury, Sheffield and Blackpool-- Encouragingly three postcode regions in the 2013 top ten actually saw an improvement in rates of crime - Sheffield, Telford and Oldham - although overall rates were still among the highest in the country-- The postcode areas with the biggest decrease in crime rates were Newcastle and Exeter with drops of 66% and 61% respectively-- In terms of actual numbers of crimes against businesses, West London, South West London and North West London take the top spots. But as overall numbers of businesses are also much higher, relative rates are lower keeping them well out of the top ten-- The postcode areas of some of the UK's larger cities saw the biggest numbers of arson claims with Liverpool and Glasgow taking top spots while London, Leeds and Birmingham had the highest incidents of malicious damage

Douglas Barnett, head of customer risk management at AXA says: "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 not just for us as a business insurer but for the business community as a whole.

"The last few years have been tough for many and we know from our customers that becoming a victim of crime can be very hard to bounce back from, both financially and emotionally. So to see the number and value of crimes decreasing is a real boost to UK business.

"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."

Notes to Editors

The following postcode areas all showed rising levels of crime:

Belfast Glasgow PlymouthBlackpool Hull RomfordBournemouth Inverness SalisburyBradford Kilmarnock StockportCarlisle Lancaster SunderlandCleveland Lincoln SwindonColchester London EC TauntonCrewe London W WakefieldDundee Motherwell WatfordEdinburgh Newport WiganFalkirk Paisley Worcester

The following postcode areas all showed crime rates above the national average:

Belfast Huddersfield RochesterBlackpool Hull RomfordBolton Ipswich SalisburyBradford Lincoln SheffieldBromley Liverpool Southend on SeaCambridge London EC St AlbansChelmsford London WC StockportChester Luton Stoke-on-TrentCleveland Motherwell SunderlandColchester Newport SwindonCoventry Northampton TauntonCrewe Norwich TelfordCroydon Oldham WakefieldDerby Oxford WalsallDoncaster Peterborough WarringtonDurham Plymouth WiganGloucester Preston WolverhamptonHalifax Reading WorcesterHemel Hempstead Redhill

Keeping crime out: top tips from AXA

-- Doors are the first port of call for any criminal wanting to gain access to your premises. Don't make it easy for them. Doors that have been strengthened/protected with steel supports and good quality locks will be a deterrent to thieves using force or violence to break in.-- Windows should be screwed or bolted shut permanently unless they must be able to open, in which case, these sections should be fitted with key operated locks. Steel bars can offer further protection. While a really determined thief can work around all of these measures, they can act as a good deterrent to violent or forced entry.-- An intruder alarm system is useful particularly if the premises are vulnerable or isolated and thieves are able to operate without the risk of being seen or heard. However, alarms are pointless if not properly maintained or if sensors are covered by stock, furniture or other items.-- Sprinkler systems can help prevent the devastation caused by an arson attack. But like alarm sensors, these need to be kept properly maintained and not blocked by office clutter.-- CCTV can be very effective in deterring would-be thieves, vandals or arsonists. And, security lights can make premises a less attractive prospect for criminals.-- If you are taking on new staff be thorough about taking up references and carrying out background checks.-- Cash is a big draw for thieves and can sometimes be the trigger for a violent attack. If you have tills, regularly remove cash and place in a safe. Use a recognised cash carrying company to collect and be aware of how much money your policy will cover you for while on site, off site and during transit.-- Important data can be lost in a burglary or fire. It is worth investing in the technology that will allow you to back up data using a cloud or off-site facility.-- Keep your insurance up to date and check sums insured regularly to make sure you have adequate insurance in case the worst should happen. Particularly if your circumstances change such as you invest in new equipment or increased levels of stock.

AXA provides a number of services to businesses to help them get the right insurance and protect against crime:

-- online risk assessment with different levels of cover to match the business requirements-- discounts for sprinklers and security systems-- specialist teams who will help to get businesses up and running again should the worst happen

About AXA Business Insurance

AXA Business Insurance is part of AXA Insurance UK plc, which belongs to the AXA group of companies. With us, you choose the business insurance that's right for you. We offer public liability, employers' liability and professional indemnity insurance online to start ups, sole traders, self-employed people and small businesses. In addition we offer van insurance and landlord insurance. AXA Business Insurance also runs Business Guardian Angel which provides resources to help protect and grow small businesses.

You can follow AXA Business Insurance on Twitter @AXAbizteam, for business insurance help, and @AXABizAngel, for the latest business news. You'll also find AXA Business Insurance on Google+ and Facebook - and you can watch expert guides and business case studies on the AXA Business Insurance YouTube channel.

About AXA

The AXA Group is a worldwide leader in insurance and asset management, with more than 163,000 employees serving 102 million clients in 57 countries. In 2012, IFRS revenues amounted to Euro 90.1 billion and IFRS underlying earnings to Euro 4.3 billion. AXA had Euro 1,116 billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2012.

In the UK AXA operates through a number of business units including: AXA Wealth, AXA Commercial Lines and Personal Intermediary, AXA Personal Direct and Partnerships, AXA PPP healthcare, AXA Ireland and an independent distribution business Bluefin. AXA employs over 12,000 staff in the UK.

The AXA ordinary share is listed on compartment A of Euronext Paris under the ticker symbol CS (ISN FR 0000120628 - Bloomberg: CS FP - Reuters: AXAF.PA). AXA's American Depository Share is also quoted on the OTC QX platform under the ticker symbol AXAHY.

The AXA Group is included in the main international SRI indexes, such as Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) and FTSE4GOOD.

It is a founding member of the UN Environment Programme's Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) Principles for Sustainable Insurance and a signatory of the UN Principles for Responsible Investment.

(1) Research was carried out on-line in June 2013 among 500 SME business owners or decision makers in the UK.

(2) These figures are based on the relative level of crime against numbers of businesses rather than actual numbers which will be greater in bigger postcode areas

AXA Business Insurance press office
Miranda Seymour
0208 246 6853 / 07966 549413

Source: Marketwire