Retailers could do more to prevent in-store crime, advises police chief

Retailers could to more to prevent retail crime, according to the leader of the National Business Crime Centre at the City of London Police.

Speaking at the Retail Technology Show in London, superintendent Patrick Holdaway, said that very few retailers have a crime prevention strategy in place or an established process to report it properly.

“We had five and a half million crimes last year, shop thefts were 425,000, so it is still less than 10 per cent of our crime,” Holdaway said. “If everything got reported, it would be four times those levels. When we are looking at resources, it goes to where the risk is.”

He added that that retailers often lack the time to report crime properly, for example neglecting to include what was stolen or failing to share data hold, like CCTV footage.

The superintendent went on to say that this could prolong investigations and prevent criminals from being prosecuted.

Holdaway told delegates that environmental factors such as the location of high value goods and recognising repeat offenders when they come into stores would help to cut crime levels. He recalled a “frustrating” incident whereby alcohol was displayed near the entrance of a retailer's store and thieves were able to grab several bottles and make a swift exit.

Proactive technology

He said that many retailers are turning to technology such as body cameras to prevent crime. While these can provide a solution, Holdaway said that many retailers are forgetting to charge these devices or even turn them on.

Holdaway said that there is advice available for retailers to put systems in place to prevent crime through OPAL – the national policing team that oversees intelligence on serious organised acquisitive crime.

The police lead pointed out that some retailers are more successful at implementing security measures than others, pointing to health and beauty retailer Boots as an example of good practice with its centralised security centre.

He added that many retailers are implementing headsets which can help employees feel safer and alert co-workers to potential incidents developing.

Holdaway said that facial recognition technology has provided positive results, with around 80 per cent of criminals giving up when they find out they are being recognised.

The Retail Technology Show is taking place at Olympia London on 24 and 25 April

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