A police superintendent is investigating ways to make reporting retail crime easier, to encourage victims to come forward and improve police understanding of the true level of incidents.
Superintendent Patrick Holdaway’s comments were made to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on retail crime last week, attended by betterRetailing, NFRN national president Narinder Randhawa, NFRN head of political engagement Adrian Roper, NFRN national deputy vice president Mo Razzaq, ACS government relations director Ed Woodall and Keystone Consulting director Fiona Cuthbertson.
The meeting came as independent retailers continued to report that police responses to incidents are slow or absent, and labour-intensive reporting processes are eroding trust in reporting incidents.
Last week, Amrit Kaur Maan told betterRetailing police took more than an hour to attend her report of a violent criminal racially abusing her, making threats of violence and destroying shop equipment.
Despite the suspect being spoken to by officers at the scene and there being clear CCTV footage, the suspect was not prosecuted.
Challenged at the meeting to explain what was being done to improve reporting, Holdaway said: “It’s so important that we get all the information we can when incidents happen. Even if we haven’t got a known offender, we still want to know about it. We need to know where incidents are taking place.
“If we are able to make reporting crimes easier, this will help the police to respond better. Tesco has its own crime database, and it records incidents on its system, which is connected to the police directly.
“This means staff don’t need to make phone calls to report low-level crimes, but only when the police’s service is needed.”
Also, during the meeting, it was reported there had been no movement in pushing the Home Office to amend its Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to create a new offence for assaulting a shopworker.
Last month, in its argument against the law, the government referenced already existing offences that cover assaults against any workers, including retail workers, being adequate enough.
Roper said he was encouraged to see the law being used in Scotland, after its passing earlier this year, but urged the need for the English government to do the same. “We have started to see the law being used in Scotland, which shows it is working,” he said.
“There is an argument for every group wanting protection.”
Woodall confirmed the trade body has a plan to target MPs to lobby for the law now, and suggested collaboration with the NFRN would be useful.
Read more retail crime news and advice