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Managing Editor, IFSEC Insider

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James Moore is the Managing Editor of IFSEC Insider, the leading online publication for security and fire news in the industry.James writes, commissions, edits and produces content for IFSEC Insider, including articles, breaking news stories and exclusive industry reports. He liaises and speaks with leading industry figures, vendors and associations to ensure security and fire professionals remain abreast of all the latest developments in the sector.
October 31, 2023

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Retail security

Retailers and policing brought together as UK Government launches Retail Crime Action Plan to tackle shoplifting epidemic

Announced by Policing Minister Chris Philp on 23 October, the Government has brought together police and major retailers to launch the Retail Crime Action Plan, designed to tackle shoplifting and keep retail workers safe.

Philp chaired a meeting with senior police leaders and 13 of the UK’s biggest retailers to launch the Retail Crime Action Plan.

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Chris Philp, Minister of State for Crime, Policing, & Fire (Credit: Parliament.UK)

The plan is designed to tackle the well-documented shoplifting and retail crime epidemic, which has also led to an increase in violence against retail workers and frontline staff.

The plan sets out advice for retailers on how provide evidence to pursue cases, as well as a police commitment to prioritise attending the scene of incidents of shoplifting or violence against workers.

It also commits police to prioritising instances where security guards have detained offenders or where attendance is required to secure evidence.

Attendance will be based on risk, and prolific offenders will be treated with priority, outlines the plan.

On the announcement, Nicki Juniper, Head of Security for the John Lewis Partnership, said:

“While there’s no silver bullet for tackling retail crime, we welcome this significant step forward. Retail crime is not victimless, it has an impact on Partners, customers and on prices. We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with police and others in the sector to keep our Partners and customers safe.”

Project Pegasus – Facial recognition and digital intelligence gathering platform

The plan also sets out advice for retailers on evidence gathering, as well as the formation of specialist digital sharing services between retailers and the police.

It says that CCTV footage of the incident, and an image of the shoplifter from the digital evidence management system should be sent as quickly as possible after an offence.

Images will then be run through the Police National Database using facial recognition technology to support in identification and prosecution.

A new police team is being created to build a “comprehensive intelligence picture” of organised crime gangs. Several reports have indicated that organised crime is playing a significant role in the growth of retail crime, with retail experts claimed they had been taking advantage of “threadbare policing”.

The business and policing partnership initiative has been named ‘Project Pegasus’, and the hope is that it will “radically improve the way retailers are able to share intelligence with policing”.

Pegasus has been backed by the Home Office, John Lewis, the Co-op, M&S, Boots, Primark and several other major retailers. They have collectively pledge over £840,00 to launch the initiative.

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Image credit: Rodger Tamblyn/AlamyStock

The majority of funding will go towards the creation of the specialist team, working within OPAL, the national policing team that oversees intelligence on organised acquisitive crime.

A new digital information interface will be developed to streamline information sharing between retailers and the police. It will also provide training to retailers.


Further reading: Tackling the retail crime epidemic with technology – Are body-worn cameras the answer? 


“Zero-tolerance approach to tackling shoplifting”

Crime and Policing Minister Chris Philp said:

“I want a new zero-tolerance approach to tackling shoplifting. It is a blight on our highstreets and communities and puts the livelihoods of traders at risk. I am determined to drive forward change.

“While it is encouraging to see a 29% increase in charges for shoplifting in the past year, the rise in offending is unacceptable and there is much more to do to stop it happening in the first place.

“That’s why we’re taking action and bringing together government, policing and business to commit to smarter, more joined up working when it comes to retail crime, which will help to drive down criminal behaviour and rebuild public confidence in the police response when it does occur.”

Katy Bourne, PCC and APCC National Lead for Business and Retail Crime, added:

“Pegasus will be a game changer in the fight against retail crime providing for the first time an accurate national picture of the organised groups from local families to cross border criminals driving organised shop theft.

“Retailers will agree ways to capture information that can be shared and analysed to create intelligence packages for police forces to target and track perpetrators. I am very grateful to all the contributors to Pegasus and to Mitie in particular for helping to get Pegasus airborne.

Security services provider, Mitie, has been heavily involved in the creation of the project and is steering the working group as its secretariat.

Jason Towse, Managing Director, Business Services, Mitie, concluded:

“This collaboration is a game changer in combatting rising retail crime. By working in partnership, to combine industry knowledge with policing powers, the public and private sectors can tackle retail crime at its source, creating safer communities for us all to live, shop and work in.

“We’re proud to be supporting the creation of this innovative new project, bringing together retailers, the police and government to achieve this common goal.”

 

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