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Spotlight shines on prolific shoplifting in major retail event

Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping is to host a multi-agency event examining the impact of prolific shoplifting on the county.

Policing experts, retailers and criminal justice specialists will come together for the Retail Crime Event to analyse current shoplifting data and identify joint-working opportunities to tackle the County’s most frequent shoplifters and help rehabilitate them.

The event will discuss the findings of a major research project conducted by criminology expert Professor Simon Holdaway, who is based at Nottingham Trent University, which looks in unprecedented detail at prolific shoplifting in Nottinghamshire.

Analysing a period between July 2012 and July 2013, Professor Holdaway’s report examines the criminal activities of a select group of prolific offenders to learn lessons about offending motivators and the effectiveness of police and courts intervention. The aim of the research is to develop better multi-agency response plans and employ more successful prevention measures across a broad spectrum of organisations including retailers, police and the courts.

The Retail Event, which will be held on Monday (June 16) at the Arrow Centre in Hucknall, is intended to build on the Force’s Retail Crime Conference held in August last year and will include presentations from a range of keynote speakers including Sally Jackson from South Nottinghamshire Community Safety Partnership, Professor Holdaway and Commissioner Tipping.

Commissioner Tipping said: “Shoplifting remains a significant problem within Nottinghamshire and has been increasing at a rapid rate which could be a sign of the increasing economic difficulties people are facing or the improvements in crime prevention measures in other areas. Whatever the driving force, it’s clear that those offenders who are responsible for a disproportionate number of shoplifting offences will keep on committing crime until we stop them.

“Clearly, we need to develop a long-term strategy and prevent further drain of valuable police resources and public funds. This has to embrace proven techniques to control offenders including greater use of electronic tagging to track shoplifters, more appropriate sentencing which incorporates drug and alcohol rehabilitation programmes and greater involvement among retail owners of shop-based crime prevention.

“Our research shows that current enforcement and sentencing measures have little deterrent value, even in cases of imprisonment. Our best option is to invest in those services which tackle the addiction problems responsible for offending and work closely with our partners to signpost offenders to help at the earliest opportunity. No single agency has the answers or indeed the solution to this problem and we must all work together to deliver a package of interventions which limits not only the opportunities for offending but also removes the driving forces behind it whether this is drug or alcohol dependency, poverty or unemployment.”

The research examined the offending patterns of 63 shoplifters between July 2012 and July 2013. Of those being studied, seven offenders committed more than 10 shoplifting offences during the period, six committed just short of 10, nine committed eight offences and the other 41 continued to commit theft from shops during the year. Importantly, 60 of the offenders were misusing drugs and alcohol and their offending behaviour sustained their dependency. Despite this, just 16 drug and two alcohol rehabilitation orders were among the 541 sentences delivered to the offenders by the courts.

The report details the effectiveness of electronic tagging as a crime deterrent. This technology permits police and others to monitor offender movements by means of a signal emitted every 30 seconds that indicates their exact location. All data is recorded on an online database which can be analysed to pinpoint offender movement. Additionally, geographical zones can be created around shops which, if entered by an offender, form an area that triggers their tag to send an immediate signal to police and/or a shop.

Electronic tagging involves significant costs and the report says retailers could be reasonably expected to finance a tagging system to prevent crime occurring in their shops in much the same way as many householders finance the installation and maintenance of burglar alarms to protect their homes. Research shows few prolific shoplifters have breached their conditions once tagged and when breaches have occurred, these have been dealt with swiftly.

The report recommends that retail owners and police jointly finance a trial project to test the impact of tags on prolific shoplifting in Nottinghamshire. It also urges further discussion with magistrates around the available sentencing options for these offenders including the use of rehabilitation orders and whether evidence is required of drug and alcohol use prior to decision-making.

These issues will be discussed in detail by those attending the Retail Event. A small management group including police and retail representatives will oversee the work rising out of their discussions. 


Media Enquiries:   Sallie Blair - 01283 821012 / 07702 541401



Posted on Friday 13th June 2014
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