Wokingham Borough Conservatives are pressing Thames Valley Police on what they are doing to stop shoplifting.
Following a presentation by the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Matthew Barber, and the Chief Constable Jason Hogg to the Council meeting on Thursday 16 November, we raised concerns about retail crime from business owners. Responding, Matthew Barber said that it was important to identify repeat offenders who account for around 65 per cent of shoplifting offences. He also said that the police force were working with retailers to make it easier for them to submit evidence, and to work in partnership with business owners to work together in crime prevention.
The Chief Constable highlighted that by the end of this month, police will be using facial recognition technology on past CCTV footage to identify shoplifters, and that this would lead to more offenders being brought to justice.
It is important to stop shoplifters before they become prolific offenders. And it is important that businesses have confidence in the police that if they report a crime action will be taken.
We're pleased that the police have a renewed focus on tackling shoplifting and have been working in partnership with businesses to encourage more reporting and undertaking more crime prevention measures. An increased police presence is also welcome news, as it will both act as a deterrent to would-be offenders and give greater confidence to businesses and shoppers.
Matthew Barber, Police and Crime Commissioner, has procured the use of Disc for retailers across the Thames Valley in an effort to reduce and prevent retail crime.
Disc is an online information-sharing platform which is available both online and as an app to help retailers report and access information about crime.
The platform, which has been procured by the Office of the Police and Commissioner, will be made available free of charge to retailers, Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and Business Crime Reduction Partnerships (BCRPs) across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Milton Keynes.
Matthew said: “Over recent months I have been engaging with retailers across the Thames Valley to understand the challenges they face with regards to retail crime.
“Retail crime has a profound impact on staff, customers and the wider economy. However, it remains significantly underreported both in Thames Valley and across the country.
“With the implementation of Disc, we will make reporting retail crime easier and more efficient. The ease of information sharing between retailers themselves and directly with the police will make a difference to the security and confidence of businesses with increased intelligence supporting a more targeted policing response.
“I am continuing to engage retailers on how business and policing can better work together to tackle these issues and I’m currently developing a wider retail strategy, of which Disc forms a part, to deliver a more visible, targeted and robust response.”
Disc, which can be accessed as an app or in desktop form, also includes details of known offenders and has an alert system where retailers can send and receive email alerts about any immediate threats. Critically, the system makes reporting to the police faster and more efficient – users can submit a crime report directly through the platform, removing the need to call 101.
The information submitted to the platform can support the police with increased intelligence, helping them target hotspot areas and known offenders as well as identifying possible local trends.
The system will be rolled out over the coming month, with details of how businesses can sign up to be published shortly.