Law to enable retailers to share data on criminals

“We know businesses have a lot of data around offenders, so this legislation could help police and businesses tackle crime.” 

A new law will soon allow independent retailers to share data on criminals with one another for the purpose of prevention and detection of crime, it has been revealed. 

An updated Data Protection and Digital Information Bill making its way through parliament was highlighted at the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Retail Crime meeting on 15 November, attended by Better Retailing. 

City of London superintendent Patrick Holdaway praised the move, and said it will improve the data-sharing process for retailers, “something which, to date, has been a challenge”. 

He said “the screening part” is likely to happen in the summer, adding: “We know businesses have a lot of data around offenders, so this legislation could help police and businesses tackle crime.” 

Met Police commander Kyle Gordon shared his recent experience in working with 12 retailers to track down their most prolific offenders, whereby they identified 149 of 400 images provided. 

Read more: OPINION: Retail crime action plan is a step in the right direction – James Lowman, chief executive, ACS

However, he reinforced the importance of retailers working with the police to generate results. 

“I’m prepared to do our part,” he said. “But I really, really need you to do your part.” 

The event, chaired by MP Steve McCabe, looked at the threat of crime on local communities. Discussing this, he said: “We are prepared to work with the police, the retailers, with [customers], to make sure that we can bring about a significant change to this unacceptable behaviour.” 

In addition to the discussion of a new bill, MP Ian Paisley, chair of the APPG, expressed concern over “pressure” store owners and police are likely to encounter when enforcing upcoming tobacco and vaping laws, such as age-restriction increases. 

Earlier this month, as part of wider plans, the government confirmed it would introduce a new law to stop children who turn 14 this year or younger from ever legally being sold tobacco products. 

Addressing the House of Commons earlier on the day at Prime Minister’s Questions, Paisley raised the issue of retail crime on a national scale.  “According to the British Independent Retail Association, 82% of retailers don’t even bother reporting physical attacks on their staff,” he said. 

“Will the prime minister ensure retailers are protected, theft against them is called out and they are supported?” 

Prime minister Rishi Sunak replied: “Our agreement with police forces is that all shoplifting should be followed up where there is evidence. Any violent or abusive behaviour towards shop workers is never acceptable, and that is why we introduced a statutory aggravating factor for assaults on workers who provide a service to the public.” 

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