Retail Crime Action Plan Published

Commissioned by the Policing Minister Chris Philp and published yesterday, the Retail Crime Action Plan October 2023 sets out further measures to tackle the rise in shoplifting, catch more prolific offenders and keep retail workers safe.

The action plan has been led by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) supported by the government and national retailers.  It is to be used ‘as a guideline for forces to follow where operational demand allows.’  And takes account of the fact that the police received 274,000 reports of retail theft in the financial year 2022 – 2023, and that some of these incidents will have been accompanied by assaults and threats of violence by offenders.

You can find the media release here and you can find the full report here.

Some key points from the Plan are:

  • Police attendance at the scene for retail crime will be prioritised in the following circumstances:
    • Where violence has been used
    • Where an offender has been detailed e.g. by store security, and repeat / prolific or juvenile offenders will be treated with elevated priority.
    • Where evidence needs to be promptly secured where it can only be done in person e.g. securing forensic evidence
  • Police should follow all reasonable lines of enquiry when investigating an offence e.g. recovering CCTV and using facial recognition capability on the Police National Database, interviewing eyewitnesses
  • Local policing teams should work with retailers to identify those offenders which cause the most harm and develop joint action plans to target their offending (this happens in Blackburn town centre through BBAC).  The use of business and victim statements to support prosecutions should be optimised, to empower courts to consider all aspects following guilty pleas or verdicts.
  • Hot spot areas should be identified and prioritised for patrols to provide a highly visible police presence to prevent crime, provide reassurance and increase responsiveness.  This should be accompanied by problem solving policing to tackle the root causes of the offending.
  • Opal is the National Intelligence Unit for Serious and Organised Acquisitive Crime.  Together with a number of High Street retailers under a partnership called Pegasus, this will fund a new Organised Retail Crime (ORC) group, supporting Police Forces in identifying the OCGs (Organised Crime Groups) operating in their area so they can be targeted locally.
  • It was recognised in the Plan that there are a number of key actions the police require / expect retailers to carry out, such as:
    • Providing a safe working environment for staff as they are legally required to do, and protect their assets, stock and infrastructure
    • Providing reasonable and effective crime prevention measures
  • The plan includes a guide to support retailers in reporting crime to the police:
    • 999 – where there is a risk to life or someone is in immediate danger of harm; a serious offence is in progress; use or immediate threat of use, of violence; property is in immediate danger of being seriously damaged; the crime is or likely to be, serious and in progress; an offender has been detained and poses or is likely to pose a risk to others
    • Online reporting – for non-emergency and non-priority reports
    • Non-emergency 101 – for all incidents that do not require an emergency response
    • Retailers should prioritise the following instances:
      • Incidents involving violence or threats of immediate violence
      • Hate related crimes
      • Offences by prolific/persistent or juvenile offenders
      • Offences where there is evidence of organised crime
      • Offences committed with a significant value or commodity type (e.g. corrosive liquid) or where there are reasonable lines of enquiry to pursue
  • In terms of CCTV, retailers are required to share the following:

o   CCTV images that capture the whole incident and shared via a digital evidence management system (Lancashire Police uses the NICE digital evidence management system).

o   CCTV shared by e.g. CD / USB if online transfer not possible

o   Digital image of the suspect

o   A witness statement(s) should be supplied by the reporting staff member and the staff member who witnessed the offence, which:

  • Details stock loss and any offences committed
  • Produces the CCTV as evidence
  • Includes an Impact Statement for Business