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    Police intelligence unit opens retailer training

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    A new team within Opal, national policing’s intelligence unit for serious and organised acquisitive crime, will soon begin the process of gathering, scoping and analysing information about organised retail crime groups referred from a number of different sources, National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) stated today (3).

    The team, funded by the Pegasus partnership launched in 2023 by PCC Katy Bourne, is rolling out training to retailers and police forces to support them in understanding Opal’s role and how to refer intelligence which can then be analysed and explored on a national scale.

    The virtual sessions will take place through April and will explain the thresholds and requirements for referrals, demonstrating how the team will work with forces, retailers, businesses and organisations to gather information. This will be instrumental in identifying and tackling the organised crime groups responsible for a large proportion of retail crime.

    Stephanie Coombes, Head of Intelligence at Opal, said, “Opal has been carrying out this role for other crime types for a number of years and we have seen significant successes from having a national overview of what’s happening in the organised crime world.

    “You may have for example, an organised crime group targeting a chain of convenience stores in one region who are also using the same tactics in several different areas. Without a national team to bring together that information, we could have several police forces each looking into the same group so Opal’s role is to centralise that intelligence, build a strong evidence package and then work with the relevant force/s to deal with these high harm offenders.

    “We know that many retailers have intelligence built up through their own systems and processes and the training sessions aim to demonstrate how they can work with us to share that information so action can be taken. We need to stress that Opal’s service does not replace reporting incidents to your local police force, it is a route for sharing information and intelligence packages and one of the key requirements for making a referral is having a crime number for the related incident/s.

    “We want to make it clear and straightforward for retailers, businesses, organisations and police forces to share information with us and the training sessions are an important element in achieving this.”

    Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman, the National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Acquisitive Crime, said, “Partnership working is essential in tackling many different crime types, a fact emphasised by the Retail Crime Action Plan which we launched last year and which is showing positive results through greater collaboration between forces and retailers.

    “Opal has provided a vital service to police forces for a number of years and will significantly boost the response to retail crime, showing these organised crime groups that there is quite simply nowhere to hide.”

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