Police Professional placement: Co-operative group

Eight weeks ago Viki joined Co-op Group Risk for nine months as their business crime strategy lead. Viki is an experience police inspector from Lancashire constabulary who swapped her radio and night shifts for a secondment at Co-operative Group HQ in Manchester.


Viki is supporting the risk function through the development of business crime strategies to support national, regional and county wide innovative solutions between the Co-operative Group, its communities and the police service, that drive the creation of safer, stronger communities. Read her blog below and if you would like to contact the College of Policing or Viki visit www.college.police.uk/placements 

Viki's Blog

This fantastic opportunity came about as a result of a project developed by the College of Policing following their review of leadership development within the Police Service. Already I have been able to make use of my skills as a police officer and leader and it’s my intention to bring back any learning to the police, for example I am particularly interested to see how a large organisation such as the Co-op group manage change and the wellbeing of their staff.

Week one was very busy and in at the deep end including a visit to the Heads of Security meeting at the British Retail Consortium based in London. This is where the ‘top bods’ from all of the retailers meet and discuss the security issues within their organisations (without disclosing anything competitive in nature). The main points that were made included the worrying trend of an increase in severity and incidents of violence against their store colleagues, police response (or lack thereof – that was bound to crop up) and Cybercrime issues. I picked up an understandable frustration from national retailers trying to get a consistent response and approach from 43 different police forces. However, despite this they were all extremely understanding of the challenging times police are facing due to the cut in resources and the increase in complex crime we are dealing with.

Within the first week I had been given goals to achieve during my secondment and I am held accountable by fortnightly review meetings with my line manager. I was intrigued at the level of scrutiny so early in the process, but have found it a supportive process. It’s worth mentioning that the goals are key drivers within the organisation as a person’s pay/bonus can be based on their performance – something which I am not subject to whilst working at the Co-op. Over the following weeks I travelled to Glasgow, Leicester and London for large retail conferences and I have visited stores across the country to understand the challenges that the staff face and the types of crime that are committed. I have been impressed with the level of enthusiasm the Co-op staff display and their genuine commitment to the local community.

Recently I also attended the launch of the National Business Crime Centre based in New Scotland Yard. It’s a small team led by DCI Georgie Barnard and they are really keen to support business communities, offering advice and signposting and working closely with police force business crime leads. During my secondment it will be very important for me to work closely with the centre and I fully intend to offer them my support.

As a police leader I am used to being responsible for my own workload and this role certainly requires the ability to work with minimum supervision. I see my role as developing good practice for sustainable interventions with Co-Op’s communities. For example I am currently investigating the potential of directing some of the Co-op community membership funds to offer support to third sector organisations such as drug & alcohol intervention programmes and diverting female offender programmes. Not only would this have a positive effect on local communities, it should also have an impact of the level of crime committed against retailers.

This is just a very small snapshot of what I have been doing and in the few weeks that I have worked with the team at Co-op I have been made to feel very welcome and I am thoroughly enjoying the role and the challenges that it brings.

I have been asked the same questions a few times and I have summarised these with the answers below:-

Are you still a Police Inspector? – Yes, however I work for the Co-op group in a specific identified role

How long are you seconded? – For 9 months, so I will return to Lancashire Constabulary in June 2018

How much will you earn? – Exactly the same as usual

Next steps

If you would like to know more contact the NBCC or visit the College of Policing www.college.police.uk/placements