A plan commissioned by the Policing Minister and developed by policing in partnership with Government to drive down retail crime is already showing positive results.

The Retail Crime Action Plan, which set out policing’s commitment to tackling shoplifting and prioritising attendance where violence was involved or a shoplifter was detained, was launched in October 2023.

Operational implementation of the plan has shown significant impact from a dip sample of 31 police forces carried out in December 2023.

Of over 1,500 crimes reviewed across all retailers, police attended 60 per cent where violence had been used, with 16 per cent of forces sampled reporting 100 per cent attendance to this type of incident.

Police attendance for a detained shoplifter was 76 per cent with 21 per cent of forces again showing 100 per cent attendance.

A number of factors impact attendance in both types of incident. This includes whether an offender has left the scene or been let go before police were called, how soon after the incident it is reported, whether a retailer may not support a prosecution, or when officers are dealing with or are diverted to an urgent incident elsewhere.

Chief Superintendent Alex Goss, is National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for retail crime. He said:

“Retail crime can have a significant impact on victims, which is why we are committed to doing all we can to reduce thefts and pursue offenders, especially those prolific and habitual offenders who cause misery within the community.

“The Retail Crime Action Plan sets out clear guidelines for the response to retail crime and it’s positive to see police forces have really embedded this in their operational work, a fact clearly shown in this sample of incidents.

“At the same time, we know organised crime can also be responsible for a proportion of these offences. This is why we welcome the collaboration between retailers, police and crime commissioners and policing through Project Pegasus, which enhances our ability to identify and tackle the groups involved.

“The intelligence aspect to Project Pegasus within national policing unit, Opal, is undergoing recruitment and work has already started to collate information on prolific offenders and groups around the country. We look forward to reporting further results in due course.”

Paul Gerrard, Co-op Director of Campaign and Public Affairs, added:

“We welcomed the launch of the Retail Crime Action Plan – the safety and security of my colleagues and, our communities, is our number one priority – and, our own experience  shows early signs of advancement in police response rates since its introduction.

“Retail crime is neither petty nor victimless – instead it can be volatile and dangerous and fuels local illicit activities. However, where clear co-operation and partnerships exists with forces, it is shown to be a solvable issue.

“We urge MP’s to back the amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill to make attacking a shop worker a stand-alone offence, and I am increasingly confident that there is now the opportunity and appetite to collaborate further with police forces to build on the green shoots of improvement seen so far.”

Crime and Policing Minister Chris Philp said:

“Shoplifting has a detrimental impact not only businesses and high streets, but retail workers themselves who can be subject to unacceptable intimidation and violence.

“We will not tolerate it, which is why we launched the Retail Crime Action Plan and I am very encouraged by the progress already being made by police in delivering against their commitments.

“I won’t be complacent however, we must take a zero-tolerance approach to shoplifting and will continue working with the police and retailers to bear down on this crime – preventing it from happening, and making sure perpetrators face justice when it does occur.”

Read about the Retail Crime Action Plan.

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