Response to open letter on retail crime


APCC lead for Business and Retail Crime, Sussex PCC Katy Bourne OBE responds to the open letter from the Association of Convenience Stores.

“We hear you and PCCs are working with you and police to effectively tackle shop theft and assaults.

“I can assure the ACS and the businesses that they represent, that Police and Crime Commissioners are firmly on your side and we are working with police, retailers and Government at a national level to improve the police response.

“I completely understand the sectors’ frustration and their concerns for their members. I’ve seen for myself the fear, the harm and the damage that too many shop staff and retailers are experiencing.

“From the many businesses I have met it is sadly evident that, too often, the policing response they have received – assuming they got one - is not what they expect. However, we also cannot overlook the fact that police forces face a huge daily demand on their finite resources so they will have to prioritise a physical response based on the threat posed to staff and customers and the likelihood of catching up with the offender.

“I am pleased that the letter acknowledges the efforts of some forces, including my own Sussex, to make it easier to report incidents. I started our Safer Sussex Business Partnership three years ago to broker a better police understanding of business crime and to ensure a more productive working relationship with our local businesses.  The outcomes from that led to the establishment of a dedicated Business Crime Team which other forces are also setting up and a review of reporting mechanisms. 

“Since 2020, I have been working on behalf of PCCs with the National Retail Crime Steering Group chaired by the Policing Minister. It is clear that Government does take retail crime seriously and it listens to and works with the ACS and other industry bodies. That listening has translated into firm direction about the need for police to take back the high street from criminals and to follow up all reasonable lines of enquiry where they exist and PCCs have prioritised business crime in their local police and crime plans to make this happen.

“I know that’s what retailers and their staff and their customers want and I want to help make it as easy as possible to gather and share evidence. That’s why we have piloted One Touch reporting with the Co-Op in Sussex to cut the time to report down from 30 minutes to just two.

“At a national level I’m delighted that, with support and funding from some of our biggest retailers, we have established Pegasus. This group will combine industry knowledge with law enforcement to get, for the first time, a national intelligence picture of the organised crime groups driving some of the most aggressive and violent attacks on retailers.

“A team of specialist police intelligence analysts will work to provide the information that local forces and business can use to prevent and disrupt the gangs and arrest offenders.

“I’d also like to see prolific shoplifters monitored with electronic tags, as happens with persistent domestic abuse perpetrators and burglars, so I’ll be raising this with ministers and officials.

“If we want to retain our villages and high streets and shopping malls as pleasant places to shop and visit we have to be more proactive, more imaginative and more robust. We can’t retreat and give up or our stores will close up.”



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