Police spearhead problem-solving plan to tackle shop theft
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A problem-solving initiative aimed at preventing and reducing shop theft has been launched by the Gedling South neighbourhood policing team.
A high-visibility operation, involving patrolling officers in full uniform and marked police vehicles, was carried out at the Victoria Retail Park in Netherfield to deter thieves and reassure businesses as part of the ongoing initiative.
Officers spoke to store bosses during the targeted operation, checking to see if they had experienced any issues, as well as reminding them to report any offences promptly and accurately and to use the Shop Watch radio scheme – which enables businesses to contact each other and alert other retailers and the police when persistent shoplifters are in the area.
The officers were also on the lookout for known offenders, based on intelligence gathered, to help protect businesses and their customers from the harm caused by shop thieves.
PCSO Allan Cooke said: “We can’t solve this problem alone. Partnership working is key to tackling this issue which is one of our local priorities in Gedling.
“We are working closely with partners, including Gedling Borough Council, council wardens, CCTV operators, and Safer Streets wardens, to tackle shop theft and we’re also working with local retailers, educating them about product placement in stores and communicating with each other using the Shop Watch radio system, so they can share intelligence.
“We’ve also had Nottinghamshire Police’s Prevention Hub come out with an ex-offender to try and identify any weak points in the geography of Victoria Retail Park and in all stores, which may be exploited by offenders, and any shop staff behaviours, that they might not be aware of themselves, which might give an offender the green light to commit crime without them knowing.”
Allan added: “Once we’ve identified offenders the main tool we use, where appropriate, is the use of criminal behaviour orders which are applied for on the back of a criminal conviction.
“These can have positive requirements, such as for an offender to attend a rehabilitation course, or they can have prohibitions excluding people from certain areas or entering certain premises, to try to reduce that offending pattern.
“Once an offender has been through the custody and judicial system, and they are back out in the community, we don’t want them to carry on down the wrong path of offending.
“You have to look at the foundations of the problem and what the root cause of their behaviour is.
"If that isn’t addressed then they are just going to continue that cycle of offending behaviour, putting a strain on businesses and resources, and affecting a lot of people’s lives including the offender’s. We need to break that cycle.
“An example of that is we’re currently working with the Prevention Hub for one of our persistent shop theft offenders, who is currently in prison, so when they come out they have a path to go down which isn’t criminality.
“It’s important they have the structure in place to prevent re-offending, such as housing, employment opportunities, and things like that, as well as rehabilitation where necessary.
“If offenders decide not to choose the right path, don’t take the available help offered to them and are persistent in their criminality, then we will turn to enforcement.
"We will go through the court and we will look to obtain criminal behaviour orders. If an offender then goes on to breach their order, then they could be given up to two years in prison.”
Inspector Mark Stanley, district commander for Gedling, added: “We know the costly impact shop theft can have on our local communities and businesses.
"I would like to reassure our local retailers that we will continue to proactively target those who commit offences of this nature, and we will continue to offer our support to protect them from shop theft and to prevent and drive down this kind of criminality.
“My officers will continue to regularly attend locations affected by shop theft, as well as engaging with local businesses.
“We’re not just here to prosecute people, we’re here to help them. There are support services available to people who are at risk of committing shop theft and need help with issues, which we can put them through to.
“However, if they choose not to engage, don’t accept the help available to them, and continue offending in Gedling then we will take robust action and they will be dealt with through the courts.”