THE Federation of Small Businesses say more police officers should be on the beat to tackle crimes against town centre firms.

Calls from FSB have come at a time when shops and businesses in Widnes are still recovering from a string of recent burglaries.

The Weekly News re ported traders' growing concerns over the spate of break-ins and armed robberies in the Albert Road area of the town.

Police in Widnes launched covert operations to monitor town centre properties after admitting there had been a rise in burglaries against commercial proper ties.

But despite assurances from police in Widnes the FSB claims 40% of traders do not even report crimes because they feel that 'it wouldn't achieve anything'.

Most incidents are reported in order to get a crime number for an insurance claim rather than because the business expects the culprits to be caught.

The FSB says businesses frequently targeted by criminals are often forced to close, leading to some communities being deprived of essential shopping facilities.

It recommends police should use their time on the beat proactively by meeting traders and advising firms on how to protect their businesses and staff.

David Croucher, FSB home affairs chairman, said: 'Crime against businesses makes up at least 20% of all crimes, but the authorities do not put the same priority on them as they do on domestic crime.

'Businesses are the victims of the forgotten fifth of crime in the UK. 57% of small businesses have been the victims of at least one crime in the past year.'