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Event showcases a refreshed approach to tackling retail crime in Warwickshire

February 26, 2024
Philip Seccombe addresses the conference

Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe gives the opening address at the retail crime event.

A refreshed approach to tackling retail crime across Warwickshire has been given the support of business leaders, workforce representatives and police at a special seminar organised by Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe.

Representatives of county retailers big and small gathered alongside local and national policing representatives, retail crime initiatives and sector organisations to discuss the current state of play in Warwickshire and find new ways to work together to reduce retail crime.

The event at Woodland Grange in Leamington Spa heard from Detective Chief Superintendent Alex Goss, Retail Crime Lead for the National Police Chiefs Council and Detective Chief Superintendent Jim Taylor, who heads the National Intelligence Unit for Serious Organised Acquisitive Crime. They briefed delegates on the additional focus that is now being placed on identifying and disrupting the organised crime groups that are behind some of the recent rises in retail theft.

Locally, Warwickshire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Ben Smith outlined the recent improvements in tackling retail crime which had been delivered by the force’s Investigations, Standards and Outcomes Team.

“We have really had a step change in how we respond and investigate retail and shop theft,” he told delegates. “We’ve significantly enhanced that and it is showing now as significant improvements in our performance.

A room full of delegates watch a person talk in a conference room

The event offered opportunities for representatives from the local and national retail sector to come together and discuss the best way forward to tackling retail crime.

“We are now putting twice as many offenders before the courts than we were six months ago, which is significant. We’ve also doubled our positive action rates in Warwickshire for retail crime. We continue to drive that performance and I can see further improvements coming over the next three to six months,” he added.

He also confirmed that five new town centre police officers would be in place by April, working across the main town centres in each district and borough.  The aim is to further boost visibility and engagement with retail businesses.

Also presenting at the event was the Warwickshire Retail Crime Initiative, which has worked closely with Warwickshire Police thanks to funding from the Police and Crime Commissioner. Intelligence gathered by retailers about prolific offenders is now able to be shared proactively with police, enabling some of the improved outcomes and more significant sentences being imposed by the courts.

The seminar also heard from Victim Support about the important role that restorative justice can have in repairing the damage caused by retail crime, bringing those responsible for offending together with their victims to answer questions and hear of the impact their actions had had.

Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe said: “The event was really about creating a baseline and bringing together representatives from across the whole retail sector in Warwickshire to understand how they are affected by crime, what works well in tackling it and where improvements are needed.

People sit around a table in discussion

Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe leads a table discussion at the event.

“It’s important to remember that retail crime is not victimless and causes real emotional and financial impact on businesses, retail workers and their customers.  In short, everyone suffers through retail crime and its true impact should therefore never be underestimated.

“I was pleased with the dialogue that we were able to bring about during the event.  I want this to be the starting point to setting out a new approach in Warwickshire, helping to identify the key activities that will make a real difference and giving everyone the confidence that retail crime is being positively addressed.

“I’m encouraged by the work that Warwickshire Police and forces nationally are already undertaking to raise the profile of retail crime and bring offenders to justice, which is starting to show some really positive results.

“Sustaining this and expanding the partnership working that sits behind it will be key issues going forward, so I be looking to encourage more regular gatherings like this to help co-ordinate efforts and really drive forward the message that retail crime will not be tolerated in Warwickshire.”

Event highlights