THE Government has vowed to crack down on commercial crime following the visit of a cabinet minister to three Thurrock businesses blighted by diesel and metal theft.

On Friday, the justice secretary, Chris Grayling joined Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price, Nick Alston, the Conservative candidate for the police and crime commissioner role in Essex, and Thurrock Tory leader Phil Anderson as they met with the owners of three lorry repair firms on Hedley Avenue, West Thurrock.

After hearing how crime has cost these businesses £100,000 between them, Mr Grayling admitted that there was a “very real issue” and even noted a potential policy change that could see businesses hit by crime submitting “victim statements” in court, that may lead to tougher sentencing.

He also said that he will look at gaining government backing for the scrap metal bill, to ensure a clamp down on the illegal market for scrap metal.
Brett Shulver, Trevor Underhill and Peter Griffiths showed the Conservative gang around their businesses and outlined problems they had been experiencing over the summer.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Grayling said: “There’s a very real issue here that commercial crime in an area like this is damaging business and by damaging business it damages jobs.

“What I take out of these discussions today is that perhaps we should have victim statements from businesses that are effected by crime, so that courts understand that a theft which might appear trivial in nature has actually had a material impact on the functioning of a business, through loss of a major client for example.

“Victim statements would bring tougher sentencing. If you take burglary for example, burglars today are going to prison for longer than they were 10-years-ago because victim statements are now part of the routine for courts.”

Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price said: “We need to look more closely at commercial crime and at the deterrants. Perhaps the police aren’t driving around as often as they should.

“These are people who work hard, they can’t afford to be giving up money because of crime and paying higher insurance premiums.

"It’s not fair to them, they’re taking risks and trying to create jobs.

" I want Chris to look at how the criminal justice system can better deal with commercial crime.”

Check out this week's Gazette to read about three borough firms battered by crime.