Insurer expects 25% rise in next two years

Norwich Union has warned businesses to check their security as property crime is expected to rise by up to 25% in the next two years.

The move comes in response to a warning from the Police Federation that crime will surge by a quarter as police numbers dwindle and the economy continues to slump.

Norwich Union property risk manager Allister Smith said that arson and malicious damage had already increased, partly because of the increase in unoccupied buildings. “With the predictions of an increase in burglary and fewer police officers on the streets, businesses need to be more aware than ever of the adequacy of their security measures.”

Insurers attended a summit last month between the ABI and the home secretary Jacqui Smith over improving home security.

According to the ABI, last year insurers paid out more than 6,000 claims every week worth about £7m.

Allister Smith said businesses should check if their security was adequate, taking into account where their premises were and whether the in-built physical, electronic security, lighting and guarding measures were right. He said they should act quickly if they identified any deficiency.

Paul McKeever, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said more police officers were needed to help prevent any rise in property crime.

“With rates set to increase as the recession deepens, politicians of all parties need to sit up and take notice of this research which clearly shows that the resilience of the service will be damaged unless police officer strength is increased over the next three years,” he said.

But Vernon Coaker, the police minister, said officer numbers had risen by 15,000 since 1997.