A new report from the Federation of Small Businesses claims to show the true extent of crime and its impact on businesses in the region.
The report found that in the North West, almost two fifths (36 per cent) of small firms been the victim of a traditional crime such as theft, criminal damage and assault.
Meanwhile around 25 per cent of small firms in the region have been hit by some form of cybercrime including phishing, malware and data theft, the highest levels of cybercrime across England and Wales.
FSB is calling on the Government to tackle crime against small businesses as a priority and help to plug the £17bn that is being lost in the economy every year as a result.
Central to this is the hiring of new police officers which is crucial to tackling business crime in England and Wales along with making sure Police and Crime Commissioners give it the priority it deserves.
As part of the new research, it’s been found that, in the previous two years, almost half of small firms in England and Wales have been the victim of crime, which equates to around 2.5m smaller businesses.
The sheer number of incidents of business crime against smaller firms each year is staggering – FSB data suggests there are around 7.7 million crimes are committed against smaller firms each year.
FSB Lancashire and Cumbria Development Manager Paul Foster said: “These figures show the immense pressure that small firms are under on a day to day basis and the hugely damaging effect of business crime on UK productivity.
“These are uncertain times for all firms and with ever-increasing costs, business crime is a problem that is devastating firms across the country.
“On average, those businesses affected by traditional (non-cyber) crime in England and Wales have suffered costs of around £14,000 over the previous two years. This is money that many small firms simply cannot afford to fork out.
“Small firms are crying out for help from the Government and from the police. Of those smaller businesses that experience at least one business crime just over one fifth did not report an impactful crime to any authorities.
“The most common reason given for this was a lack of confidence in the police, so it’s time that the new administration increases the capacity and capability of police forces in England and Wales.”