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Assault of shop workers to be made specific criminal offence

Last week Patrick attended a Retail Crime meeting at No.10 Downing Street hosted by the Policing Minister, the meeting was used to update senior retailers on the progress of the Retail Crime Action Plan and discuss some suggested new activities. 

The Government have just released a document, Fighting Retail Crime - More Action, which includes a number of new activities focussing on the following points. 

A new offence of assaulting a retail worker;

·       Expanding the use of electronic monitoring for prolific shoplifters;

·       Maximising the use of new technologies for the prevention and detection of retail crime;

·       Designing out crime, reducing the opportunities to steal and sell stolen goods; and

·       Making it easier to report crime and share information between businesses and police

They will introduce a new bespoke offence of assaulting a retail worker, via the Criminal Justice Bill currently before Parliament. This will send a strong message that assaults against retail workers are completely unacceptable and will be met with tough consequences.

There will be a presumption that on conviction for this new offence, the court will make a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) under section 22 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, to prevent an offender from visiting specific premises. Breach of a CBO is a criminal offence which carries a maximum custodial penalty of five years’ imprisonment.

A retail theft electronic monitoring (EM) ‘package’ will also be developed, to offer sentencers starting in a pilot area, a clear community sentence pathway for repeat retail theft offenders.

The document recognises that the NBCC plays a central role in linking policing and businesses, supporting each other to prevent and combat crime, and sharing good practice. The Government will work with the National Police Chiefs’ Council and Association of Police and Crime Commissioners to ensure the NBCC is sustainable going forward.

They will also provide support and explore additional funding opportunities for PCPI to develop training and raise awareness of how police officers and Police Community Support Officers can work with retailers to prevent and respond to retail crime; this will include practical measures to design out crime, such as shop layout to reduce opportunities for theft.

The NBCC has hosted workshops for police and retailers, to understand how best to provide data to the different DEMS systems; these have been well received. The Government will therefore fund a series of new workshops across the country, provided by the NBCC, to bring together police, and retailers of all sizes to understand the systems, learn 21 the key benefits and increase sign up. They will encourage police forces to invest in DEMS systems, highlighting the benefits of using the systems.

Retailers and security companies have a wealth of data about crime and information about offenders, including images from CCTV and body-worn video cameras. The Government will explore how to more effectively share this information to help police identify the offenders who are stealing from multiple retailers in local areas and to link offences, using retrospective facial matching technology to eliminate thieves.

They will share information and good practice on the tools that can help support retailers report crime, through the National Retail Crime Steering Group. And they have committed to work with the National Business Crime Centre, National Association of Business Crime Partnerships and the newly-formed BCRP Standards Board to professionalise BCRPs and increase the effectiveness of data sharing.

Read the report in full here: Fighting retail crime: more action