On Thursday 11 November, NFRN representatives met with the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner to discuss retail crime within the area, in the hopes to provide information and encourage the commissioner to include of the crimes in the upcoming crime plan.
The Commissioner was accompanied by Inspector Danielle Spencer, who is part of the Sheffield City Centre team, and PC Tony Nicholls, a SPOC (Single Point of Contact) for retail crime. The force has also just appointed a lead officer, Chief Inspector Gareth Thomas. There is a new determination by the police to be more pro-active around retail crime.
The NFRN discussed the vulnerable situations independent retailers often find themselves in, usually unable to afford security that bigger stores have, let alone having police or security officers on site.
It was agreed that independent retailers require a more efficient method of reporting, but the Commissioner also understood that retailers are busy running their businesses to call 101 or complete an online report. As a result, there is considerable under-reporting of crime within the retail industry. Yet, as the police pointed out, lack of reporting means vital intelligence is lost, and patterns of crime may be missed. This often results that when someone is caught and goes to court, the full extent of their crimes could be unknown, and a lesser sentence is given. The Commissioner was very keen to discuss how reporting could be made easier.
One of South Yorkshire’s district councils has new software that enables shopkeepers to upload CCTV onto the council’s systems without an officer having to call – something that both saves police time and speeds up the process of the getting critical information to the authorities. The Commissioner agreed this should be implemented in all districts across the area.
We also discussed the need for shopkeepers who are victims of crime to complete victim and business impact statements. And where the shop plays a vital role in the local community, making a community impact statement as well – all of which could play a significant part in sentencing.
The NFRN and the Commissioner have agreed to meet again with local retailers to hear their personal stories, and the Commissioner has agreed to reference retail crime in his upcoming Police and Crime Plan.