We Must Double Down on The Use of Data To Drive The Government’s Retail Crime Crackdown

In a bid to tackle retail crime and safeguard UK high streets, the Prime Minister has unveiled a series of stringent measures aimed at deterring offenders and protecting retail workers.

Serial or abusive shoplifters will now face harsher penalties, with the possibility of up to six months in prison, an unlimited fine, and bans from revisiting the scene of their crimes. Additionally, assaulting a retail worker will be designated as a standalone criminal offense, carrying severe consequences for perpetrators.

The initiative, championed by MP Matt Vickers and major retailers, seeks to address longstanding concerns regarding the safety and security of retail staff. Repeat offenders will be required to wear tracking tags to monitor their movements, emphasizing the consequences of flouting the law.

Furthermore, the government plans to pilot a tailored community sentencing program in collaboration with law enforcement to combat high levels of shoplifting effectively. Facial recognition technology will also be ramped up with a substantial investment, enabling police to identify and apprehend offenders swiftly.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak emphasized the importance of safeguarding local businesses and ensuring that they can operate without fear of crime or abuse. The new measures build upon the success of the police’s Retail Crime Action Plan, reflecting the government’s commitment to enhancing public safety.

Home Secretary James Cleverly reiterated the government’s zero-tolerance approach towards retail crime, emphasizing the need for robust enforcement measures. The government’s efforts to tackle retail crime have been bolstered by partnerships between law enforcement and businesses, fostering intelligence sharing and enhancing response capabilities.

The establishment of a specialized police team dedicated to combating organized retail crime underscores the government’s commitment to addressing criminal behaviour effectively. By prioritizing police attendance at retail crime scenes involving violence, the authorities aim to hold offenders accountable and prevent further incidents.

Retail industry leaders have welcomed the government’s proactive stance on addressing retail crime, emphasizing the significance of protecting retail workers and maintaining a safe working environment. The measures announced are expected to enhance security measures, deter criminal activity, and promote a safer retail environment for all stakeholders.

Of the crackdown, Jason Towse, Managing Director of Business Services at Mitie commented, “Shoplifting is not a victimless crime and today’s announcement is a clear signal that violence or threat of abuse to retail workers will not be tolerated. It is positive to see the Government listening to both the retail and security industries who have been campaigning for more stringent measures. As well as tougher sentences, it is encouraging to see an enhanced plan published by the Government to fight back against retail crime, building on the Police’s Retail Crime Action Plan. We know that with multiple drivers of retail crime, a consistent, multi-layered approach is required to truly clamp down on it.

“The use of technology is key to catching organised criminal gangs and repeat offenders, so the earmarking of funding for bespoke units to identify criminals wanted by police, including repeat offenders, is a good first step. Yet we can do even more when the police and the industry collaborate. Pegasus, a new initiative launched in late 2023, brings together a powerful combination of industry leading technology with highly trained specialists. Through Pegasus, the sharing of anonymised information between 14 retailers including Boots, M&S and Co-op is already starting to build a bigger picture of retail crime across the UK. Crime hotspots and patterns are being mapped and we can track the activities of organised crime groups from Liverpool to Leicester to Llandudno to create a whole picture. Data is already being shared with the police to secure convictions.

“By looking to this smarter, more joined-up way of operating as the new normal, we can deploy a future-proof, zero-tolerance approach to retail crime, deterring potential offenders and enhancing the protection and safety of our shopworkers and security professionals.”