A NEW report from the Federation of Small Businesses has revealed the true extent of crime and its impact on businesses in the West Midlands.

The report found that in the West Midlands, around two in five (40 per cent) small firms have been the victim of a traditional crime such as theft, criminal damage and assault. Meanwhile around 20 per cent of small firms in the region have been hit by some form of cybercrime including phishing, malware and data theft.

FSB is calling on the Government to tackle crime against small businesses as a priority and help to plug the £17 billion that is being lost in the economy every year as a result.

As part of the 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.

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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.

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.

Under-reporting of business crime remains a huge issue. Many business owners are averse to spending the time needed to report incidents formally. Many cite their lack of confidence in authorities prosecuting criminal activity – or the lack of information about any enforcement action – as key reasons for their inaction.

This situation has to change.

Criminal activity against businesses and its systematic under-reporting are doing real damage to businesses and communities throughout the UK. It’s a cost that none of us can afford to ignore.