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AXA grabs ink with business crime league table

Crime against individuals over-hyped, says exec

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Insurance company Axa yesterday released an intriguing survey of business claims by region, which has been widely reported.

According to the survey, the UK's arson capital is Glasgow, accounting for nearly 11 per cent of all small and medium enterprise (SME) arson claims, while Edinburgh reportedly leads the nation in malicious damage.

However, the Scottish cities placed a disappointing eighth and sixteenth in the overall business crimes league, behind Leicester, Cardiff, Nottingham, Birmingham, Derby, Liverpool, and Manchester.

According to Axa, crimes against businesses are an under-reported problem. Axa's head of property, Neil Mercier, was quoted as saying: "We are concerned that while crime against individuals continues to generate significant column inches, public awareness of business crime remains low."

Axa is a leading SME insurer, and would no doubt like to see more effort devoted to protecting its clients' property.

According to the Treasury (pdf), government revenues from individuals via income tax and NI contributions heavily outweigh those from corporation tax. Similarly, council taxes provide more revenue than business rates. It would appear that it's mainly individuals who pay for public security efforts, so perhaps it's right that public concern and thus public bodies focus mainly on protecting them rather than businesses. In this context, Axa's use of regional sentiment to gain column inches and public interest appears rather cunning.

When this was put to Axa today, a company spokesperson firmly denied that any corporate agenda lay behind the press release. AXA has no desire to see any reallocation of public resources to fighting business crime, and sees its role merely as "a good friend to small businesses". The league table of crime was "an indication of crime hotspots, so that businesses would know the risks." ®

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