KELOWNA, BC – The Surrey Board of Trade is calling on the provincial and federal governments to focus on Retail Crime at the BC Chamber of Commerce Annual General Meeting and Conference, May 29 – 31 in Kelowna. The policy on RETAIL CRIME was approved at today’s second BC Chamber policy session as a priority to the BC and Federal Government.
“Businesses need to work together as a single community to break down silos and remove barriers to information-sharing for the common good – fighting retail theft, providing a safe and secure business environment for employees and customers, and reducing the crime tax on households,” said Anita Huberman, CEO Surrey Board of Trade.
The Surrey Board of Trade is asking Provincial and Federal Governments to:
- Investigate administrative penalties for lower level retail crimes such as ticketing and fines that reduce the impact of retail crime on our justice system and the administrative burden on our retail industry; and
- Assist in the education of business and business organizations in collaboration with law enforcement agencies regarding provincial and federal privacy legislation and how to effectively share information to reduce retail crime.
As of December 2014 retail trade in Metro Vancouver was worth $3,089,714,000. This is a significant economic contribution to the entire province. If so, why is more not being done to stop retail theft? Small retail businesses in the Lower Mainland losses to theft amount to $27,000 per day. With this level of retail theft Metro Vancouver households will pay an additional $3.5 million annually due the impact of retail crime.
In essence we are all paying a ‘Crime Tax’. This Crime Tax does not include the costs of loss prevention by businesses nor the cost of policing nor courts.
Frequently however, there is resistance to change, barriers and silos from anti-crime stakeholders and business organizations. At the individual business level there is frustration, anger and apathy.
This is not new. As an example, previous market research on the issue of cargo theft for the International Association of Airport and Seaport Police, demonstrated the same resistance and frustration from businesses in the River Road, Annacis Island, and Port Kells industrial and commercial business parks.
This problem is reflected in the statistics. There has been a significant drop in the number of retail businesses participating in Business Watch programs, and in the use of 1800 tip lines. Businesses charging criminals have dropped 20%.
The private sector can be a partner in the crime reduction solution by:
- Support the BC Government’s Blue Ribbon Panel’s report call for eliminating barriers to information-sharing, and taking concerted action within the business, law enforcement, and crime prevention and reduction communities,
- Encourage all SBOT non-retail business members to work with their counter-parts in retail trade to play a greater role in reducing and preventing retail crime,
- Call for the business community in the Lower Mainland and throughout BC to collaborate, share ideas and information for the common good of preventing and reducing retail crime, while recognizing the need for individual chambers of commerce and boards of trade to address local issues,
- Recognize the need for collaboration between for-profit, non-profit and law enforcement in finding effective, affordable, and best practice solutions to retail theft, and
- In compliance with PIPA, recognize the need to use personal information to fight organized retail crime, provide a safe and secure business environment for employees and customers, and to eliminate crime tax on households.
Government, apart from policing and the courts, also has a role in providing education and promoting coordination to ensure that retail crime is treated seriously, reported regularly and punished effectively to reduce the costs on business and the Crime Tax on consumers.
Frequently there are concerns about the sharing of information and a lack of understanding of current privacy legislation. Many businesses and organizations do not share information amongst themselves or policing agencies either from apathy or fear of violating privacy regulations and legislation.
The Surrey Board of Trade authored this policy. At this BC Chamber of Commerce AGM, Chamber delegates from across B.C. voted on this policy, among others put forward. The policy received two-thirds of votes to pass.
“The Surrey Board of Trade is proud to take this policy forward to our peers from across the province,” said Anita Huberman. “Our organization is committed to creating a more business-friendly Surrey and a more business-friendly B.C. We think this policy will help achieve that and we hope it will get the needed votes from our peer Chambers and Boards of Trade.”
The BC Chamber AGM and Conference is held in a different B.C. community each year. The event is the largest annual business policy-building forum in the province. Every year, member Chambers of the BC Chamber develop and submit policies for the consideration of their peers. This year, 54 policies were forwarded and will be voted on at the AGM policy sessions. The Surrey Board of Trade submitted 11 policies for approval.
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