MORE than two-thirds of small businesses have been a victim of crime in the past year, costing them up to £3,000, according to a report by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

MORE than two-thirds of small businesses have been a victim of crime in the past year, costing them up to £3,000, according to a report by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

But more nearly 40 per cent of small firms do not report such crimes - showing that not much has improved over the past two years, the federation added.

The report, 'Localism and tackling crimes against business', statistically shows some of the reasons why small firms have not been reporting crime: with nearly half (46 per cent) saying they did not think it would achieve anything, a third thinking the police would not be able to succeed in prosecution, and a quarter believing the police would not be interested.

With small firms having so little confidence in the police and justice system, the FSB is calling for effective action to be taken to improve the response to businesses affected by crime and to prevent small businesses from being repeatedly attacked and in some cases forced to close.

FSB Huntingdonshire chairman Malcolm Lyons said: "Small businesses are the heart of local communities, and a crime against a small firm is not just an attack against that business but it affects staff and has repercussions on the wider community.

"With two-thirds of businesses still victims of crime, the Government needs to step up and engage with this important sector of the community.

"It is paramount that the Government sets out the right local agenda to protect these vital firms that are currently losing up to £3,000 a year to crime. We cannot watch small businesses being repeatedly victimised and as a result forced to close. Businesses need to be encouraged to report crime as soon as it happens."

The FSB wants crimes against business to be included in all Community Safety

Partnerships Annual Strategic Assessments, neighbourhood policing teams to engage with businesses beyond retail premises on the High Street, and a single, national definition for crimes against business to make it simpler for the police to record crime.

Rob Garnham, chairman of the Association of Police Authorities, urged firms who believed they were getting a raw deal from police to take the matter up with the police authority.

"Many small businesses are run by members of the local community, so it is important that those communities and small businesses themselves have confidence that the police are willing to act when crimes are reported," he added.