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    Shoplifting to have dedicated unit under new ‘zero-tolerance’ plan

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    A new “zero-tolerance” plan will be agreed soon between ministers, police and retailers to crack down on shoplifting and the organised crime gangs fueling the problem, stated recent reports.

    Police chiefs are expected to unveil plans at 10 Downing Street for how they intend to tackle shoplifting, which has soared by a quarter of the last year to reach more than 1,000 per day, Times reported on Sunday (22). Under the new plan, shoplifting will have a dedicated national unit that will investigate the crime from an organised crime perspective for the first time.

    Six new intelligence analysts will be employed within Operation Opal, the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s (NPCC) unit for tackling serious organised acquisitive crime.

    A group of 13 leading retailers including John Lewis, Coop, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Next have helped fund the new unit with a £600,000 investment through an agreement called Project Pegasus.

    In return, the new Opal unit will analyse footage from CCTV, dashcams and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) as well as information collected from crime reports from different police forces with the aim of identifying organised crime groups that are behind mass shoplifting of goods. Under the new partnership, police forces will also run each CCTV image of shoplifting offences provided by retailers through the Police National Database, which includes facial recognition technology.

    Store security guards are also expected to be issued with new guidance and best practice for how to detain shoplifters under a citizens’ arrest. The guidance will ensure there is a blanket policy in different retail shops across the country that security industry leaders have asked for in order to clarify and boost protection for staff.

    “They will analyse data from all forces from stores and crunch it into actionable packages to hand to police forces to make arrests in the New Year,” Times quotes a police source saying.

    The meeting will be attended by Amanda Blakeman, the chief constable of North Wales police who also leads on retail crime for the NPCC; Katy Bourne, head of retail crime for the Association of Police of Crime Commissioners; City of London Police; the UK’s biggest 13 retailers; the Association of Convenience Stores and the British Independent Retailers Association.

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