Shop crime: NFRN meets PCCs of Durham and Kent

Joy Allen (L) and Matthew Scott

The Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN) has met with Police and Crime Commissioners of Durham and Kent following their recent re-election.

The trade body said its representatives discussed the proposed efforts by both PCCs – Joy Allen of Durham and Matthew Scott of Kent – to tackle retail crime, explaining the impact of the high levels of violence and abuse members suffer every day and stressing the the need for the local police forces to do more to prevent and address these incidents of crime.

Dwelling upon the necessary changes needed for tackling retail crime, Allen confirmed that safer businesses will remain a priority and she will focus on improvements to the force’s response time, following findings that 37 per cent of Durham County members did not report a crime incident due to lengthy response periods.

She also told NFRN National deputy vice president Jason Birks that the creation of a new off-license watch scheme will be considered, to spread awareness of criminal activity and antisocial behaviour within communities, alongside prioritising reporting on a new online system.

Scott agreed to emphasise the importance of retail crime amongst small and independent businesses within Kent county, and assured NFRN members that all crimes will be investigated and fairly assessed.

Scott told the NFRN that restoring the trust of the force remains a focus, urging all retailers to report incidences as soon as they occur. He outlined plans to recruit 250 more officers in coming years, filling policing gaps in local communities. The Neighbourhood Alert service will also be introduced in late 2021 – a two-way social media network which allows direct communication with the force and to share intelligence.

Antisocial behaviour was also a major topic of conversation, and the NFRN said the commissioner has promised appropriate care to smaller shops that fall victim of these incidences, which will be an “absolute priority” within the Police and Crime Plan 2021/22.