§ Ms Blears
I have not held any discussions with representatives of the British Retail Consortium (BRC) about its latest Annual Crime Survey. I am, however, aware of the regular information that the survey provides. The Home Office has also recently undertaken a Crime against Business survey, covering the retail and manufacturing sectors, in conjunction with Her Majesty's Treasury, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's Neighbourhood Renewal Unit and the Small Business Service (an agency of the Department for Trade and Industry). The British Retail Consortium, British Chambers of Commerce, and the Confederation of British Industry have been consulted and closely involved in the survey.
The Government take the issue of retail crime very seriously and it is one of the main workstreams on business crime that is being progressed by the Business Crime Section in the Home Office. We have provided £15 million over three years to improve the security of small retailers in deprived areas and 12,500 individual businesses will have benefited by the end of this year. We are supporting the development of retail crime partnerships in major town and shopping centres. Home Office officials are also working closely with the BRC and other members of the retail industry in the Retail Strategy Group, set up by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, to address crime problems facing the retail industry in a strategic way.