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National Retail Crime Steering Group

Violence and Abuse against Shop Workers

National Retail Crime Steering Group

Violence and Abuse against Shop Workers

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Section 4

Partnership Working Best Practice Examples

Case Study 1: BCRP training and involvement in response to an incident at a store (safeguarding training)

A local retailer as part of their membership to a BCRP was provided with a radio which connected them together, with the BCRP, police and CCTV in the event of an incident. The BCRP also offered training to staff members to help equip them with the skills needed to prevent crime and ensure personal safety. 

Following concerns from community members about a rise of younger, more vulnerable offenders, the BCRP had been working with a UK Children’s Society, supporting their campaign to encourage people to learn the signs of child exploitation and how to report it. As a result of this, their members received vulnerability and safeguarding training which helped them look closer into low-level crimes, and ask themselves whether it could be more serious. 

Following an incident of attempted theft of goods worth £15, the retailer used their radio to share information about the incident with the BCRP. They reported two young females and an accompanying male to the police.

Because the retail staff had undergone safeguarding training provided by the BCRP, they were better able to recognise potential safeguarding issues. Following an initial conversation, staff members reported that one of the young females appeared fearful. This led them to believe the incident could be more serious than shoplifting alone. 

As a result, staff members and shopping centre security officers remained with the young people while the police were updated on the situation by BCRP staff. Police checked the names and personal details of the group, and immediately requested further police presence. They then conducted individual interviews with the young people and staff members within the store to ensure they had all the details. 

It transpired that the two young females were reported as missing children

from outside the local area. The male accompanying them, who initially claimed he was underage, was discovered to be over 18 and known to police for a variety of offences, including drug use and vehicle theft. Because of his involvement with the young females, he was arrested and charged with child abduction.

How did the retailer benefit from being a member of a BCRP?

  • Retail staff were equipped with radios to communicate information about incidents taking place in their stores. This allowed BCRP staff to provide quick support and update neighbouring businesses about the incident.

  • Retail staff engagement in training provided by the BCRP meant they were confident and equipped to deal with more serious issues than what initially appeared to be low value theft.

  • BCRP staff supported the retailer by providing evidence to the police.

Case study 2: Reducing Theft in a Shopping Centre

Reducing theft remains a key priority for retailers. Lewisham Shopping Centre (LSC), Interserve security provider, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and Safer Lewisham Business Crime Reduction Partnership (BCRP) worked with local retailers, their staff and security on the Partnership in Controlling Shrinkage (PICS) initiative, which aimed to reduce losses for shopping centre businesses by deterring shoplifting through a multi-agency approach. 

The BCRP provided the stores with the tools to do this, including:

  • Radios to allow direct communication between retail stores and BCRP managers, making it easier to report an incident when it occurred in their stores.

  • Access to DISC, an online information sharing system which allows all businesses within the BCRP to share intelligence with each other. This means businesses and the local community are made aware of potential offenders and trends in their local area. The retailers involved worked in partnership with the BRCP by sharing intelligence when incidents took place and providing data on weekly theft figures.

  • Training and crime prevention advice to equip retail staff with the relevant skills and knowledge to prevent crimes in their stores and ensure staff safety.

The BCRP also offered services including:

  • Monthly visits to stores involved, to monitor issues, deter offenders and provide on the ground support during incidents. The shopping centre also arranged visible shop floor patrols (3 walk ins per hour) to deter potential offenders and provided support during incidents. They supported retailers by gathering theft figures weekly and actively engaging with BCRP managers on retail stores behalf.

  • Collection and sharing of intelligence about known offenders in the area, ensuring businesses were equipped to prevent crimes occurring in their stores, including increasing security accordingly.

  • Engagement with the local council and metropolitan police service to make them aware of the issues local businesses were facing.

As a result of this partnership approach, within a period of 7 weeks of the PICS project (between 15th July and 31st August) the daily losses of those involved reduced significantly. For example, one store saw a reduction in theft from £533 to £233, saving £300 a day, with a total saving over this period of £17k.

Case study 3: Safer Business Action (SaBA) Days

Local police, businesses, security companies and a crime reduction partnerships came together to run a Safer Business Action (SABA) day in Stratford. 

The SABA day delivered a focussed operation with joint patrols, targeted intervention of offenders and a range of crime prevention activity. The local BCRP and Police force conducted visits to businesses to raise awareness of and engagement in the ShopKind campaign. Police presence in the local town centre was increased, with crime prevention and outreach stalls offering advice to the public. 

All partners involved worked in collaboration to create awareness and understanding of the crimes that affect businesses, including shop theft and abuse against shop workers. 

The businesses demonstrated the importance of tackling crime to protect and safeguard their frontline staff. Open and honest conversations took place and business concerns were listened to and captured by the police. The SABA engagement teams emphasised the importance of reporting crime when they occur. 

The business crime reduction partnership made use of an intelligence sharing platform (SentrySIS) during the day to share information about incidents that occurred in the local area and provide updates on the SABA day activities. 

Overall, the results from the SABA day demonstrated the positive impact of increased police presence and business engagement. Over 100 businesses in the local area were visited and engaged in the day. The SABA day activities resulted in several arrests and Penalty Notice Disorders being issued. 

The benefits of this partnership approach have continued beyond the day with lasting relationships and connections made between police, business, BCRPs/BIDs, and private security in the local area that may not have otherwise been in place. 

For more information about SABA days and how to get involved in these, please refer to guidance on the National Business Crime Centre website.

Case study 4: Joined up partnership working in a Town Centre

Reading Business Improvement District (BID) had a dedicated town centre PC who worked closely with the BID wardens and Business Crime Reduction Partnership (BCRP) managers. 

A large retailer in the town-centre was repeatedly targeted by a prolific shoplifter. The retailer reported multiple incidents to the BCRP. As part of BID membership, retailers received access to the information sharing DISC system for free, allowing them to report incidents quickly and easily. The BCRP co-ordinator worked closely with other BCRPs in the area to ensure DISC reports could be escalated through the system to a police crime report. 

The retailer ensured they reported every incident, the Wardens and BCRP co-ordinator also collated internal CCTV to assist in the investigation. The BCRP managers and BID wardens raised the issue at monthly intelligence meetings. 

Assistance also came from the local shopping centre whose CCTV operators followed and helped identify the offender, which deterred them on numerous occasions, avoiding some potential future theft attempts. The dedicated town centre PC followed up on these reports, identifying the offender and collating crime reports, impact statements and monitoring progress through court. As a result of this partnership approach between the police, BCRP and retailer, the offender was given a custodial sentence. 

During the time with the dedicated town centre PC, retailer engagement increased dramatically.  The Warden, local PC and BCRP coordinator saw a huge rise in crimes being reported and dealt with.  Partnership working with the retailers was at an all-time high with retailers seeing the benefit of their reports.  These benefits included feedback and communication from the PC and Wardens on crimes the retailer had reported, and updates on what the outcome was for example, whether the offender received any bail conditions. 

*Not all crime reduction partnerships will have a specific town-centre resource, however, most BCRPs will have a dedicated point of contact which provides a useful link in with the local police force and other agencies.