The very first Business Impact Reduction Day (BIRD) took off in spectacular style, resulting in significant arrests and the apprehension of a victim of child sexual exploitation.
Operation BIRD is an industry-led initiative designed to target business related crime activity. It was launched at Westfield shopping centre in London in November, when 51 security and loss prevention professionals from across the industry joined forces with police and retailers to target prolific and persistent offenders.
The coordinated effort resulted in 18 detentions plus various other penalty notices, community resolutions and civil recoveries. The most significant, and unexpected, result of the day was the apprehension of a 15 year old girl from the north of England, who it transpired was the victim of child sexual exploitation and was being coerced into shoplifting. She is now back in the care of child protection authorities.
Initiated by National Business Crime Solutions (NBCS), Operation BIRD brought together the Metropolitan Police’s Business Crime Hub, National Business Crime Centre (NBCC), the Territorial Support Group, plus experts from the London Borough of Newham and Westfield Stratford City.
The day began with a full briefing to help share information about persistent offenders, and plans to apprehend them in a safe manner with no violence. In addition, a team of 'super-recognisers’ from the Metropolitan Police was present to identify any other offenders on the police radar. Officers in this unit have a special talent and can instantly place a familiar face; a skill that is thought is present in just one per cent of the population.
Dan Hardy, Managing Director of NBCS said, ‘The story of how this vulnerable young person came to be shoplifting in Westfield shopping centre was truly shocking. It has brought into sharp focus why safeguarding intervention requires sensitive and considerate handling when dealing with the victims of child sexual exploitation. NBCS will be looking to drive this forward with its industry partners, while further Operation BIRD activities will take place around the country.’
Detective Chief Inspector Georgina Barnard, leader of the National Business Crime Centre, was equally impressed with the results. She said, ‘Operation BIRD has proved what can be achieved when relevant parties join forces to target and prevent the impact of business related crime activity. I applaud NBCS for this initiative and look forward to working on similar activities in the future.’