PCC says tackling shoplifters is a priority as Safer Business Action Week springs into action


Merseyside PCC Emily Spurrell is urging retail and business workers to help tackle shoplifters by reporting any criminal incidents or abuse they experience.

It comes as Merseyside Police kick-started Safer Businesses Action Week with a conference that brought together Liverpool BID, Northwest Regional Organised Crime Unit’s SaferCash, Northwest Cyber Resilience Centre, Whitechapel Centre, Counter Terrorism Police Northwest (CPTNW) and Causeway, to speak to business owners and managers from across the region.

The national ‘Safer Business Action Week’ sees police carrying out events and operations across the force area to support local and national businesses and the economy. This week of action is part of a national campaign supported by the National Business Crime Centre and National Police Chief Council and aims to support the business community through partnership working and tackling the issues business face. It is the second year in which a national week focusing on business crime has taken place.

The Merseyside response is being coordinated by Liverpool City Centre Inspector Jack Woodward. The City Centre contains the largest proportion of businesses in the region. As such, the Neighbourhood Policing Team have been continuing with their close work with the business community, including Liverpool BID Company, Liverpool One and St. Johns Shopping Centre.

Throughout the week, the team will be working closely with businesses and partners in tackling retail crime through joint uniformed patrols with security staff, plain clothed operations, and targeting named and prolific offenders.

Merseyside Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said : "This week is an excellent opportunity to support the business community by bringing together police and partners to discuss the key issues of business crime. 

"Officers will be targeting shoplifting offences and licensed premises that facilitate the sale of stolen goods. They will be carrying out joint patrols with Liverpool One and St john's Shopping Centre, putting an emphasis on reassurance, making sure that all businesses where staff have reported being abused or assaulted receive follow up visits as part of the national ShopKind initiative.  

"Shoplifting is not the acceptable price of working in retail just as being subjected to threats and abuse should not be normalised as something that just happens in that line of work. 

"I want to reassure retail workers and business owners your concerns are taken very seriously. This is a priority for me within my Police and Crime Plan."

Inspector Jack Woodward is keen for the chance to engage with local businesses: “This week of action provides an ideal opportunity to support local businesses across the Merseyside region and ensure that they have the confidence in knowing that we are here to support them and the local economy.

“Nationally last year, 8 million incidents of customer theft occurred. However, only 5% of these were reported to police. I would encourage both small independents and large national companies to have the confidence in reporting all incidents of retail and business crime to us in order that we can take proactive action against offenders, utilising ASB legislation and bail powers to deter further offending and support businesses and the local economy.”

The conference, hosted at The Hilton Hotel, lasted for three hours, and was a chance for those running and managing businesses to get a more in-depth understanding of what can be done to avoid the devastating consequences of being targeted by criminals.

Sergeant Frank Stott, Force Crime Prevention Officer from Merseyside Police, gave a talk around the ways businesses can embed crime prevention into their infrastructure: “The majority of crimes committed on commercial premises are property related because modern business uses an array of desirable and easily transportable goods with a ready market such, as plants, raw materials, laptops and many other valuable assets.

“That’s why it’s so important that businesses embed ‘Secured By Design’ (SBD). It’s the official police security initiative with the specific aim of helping people live and work more safely. It’s about improving the physical security of things like doors, windows, locks, and walling systems to meet minimum security requirements.

“Not only that, it includes proven crime prevention techniques and measures into the layout and landscaping of new developments, such as maximising natural surveillance and limiting excessive through movement – techniques that are supported by independent academic research.

“Burglary reductions can be up to 87% when SBD is implemented from the outset, as well as 25 per cent less vehicle crime and 25 per cent less criminal damage. Even if it’s just a refurbishment, that can reduce burglary by up to 61 per cent. The difference it can make is significant. Businesses really can keep themselves and their staff more secure by investing in their infrastructure.”

Bill Addy, of Liverpool BID Company, spoke on how technology is being used to keep both workers and customers safe: “Our role is to make the city centre as welcoming and safe an environment for everyone, that includes our businesses who are on the frontline of hospitality and customer service.

“As part of our BID Safety Partnership, we continue working alongside Merseyside Police and the business community to address and resolve any safety issues. We fund two full-time Merseyside Police Officers who provide our Levy Payers with a direct response to non-emergency enquiries about safety, anti-social behaviour and security issues seven days a week.

“Our Radio Link Network connects 180 active businesses to provide reassurance and intelligence sharing, operating 24 hours a day using high-quality digital radios that have access to the main city channel. There are dedicated support services, CCTV and technology, including an App, to help both monitor and report crime in the city centre.”

A Counter Terrorism Security Advisor from Counter Terrorism Policing Northwest gave delegates an overview of the importance of working together for security, and how businesses could successfully liaise with CTPNW for the best outcomes.

Both Cyber Resilience Northwest and SaferCash gave an overview of the threats and risks businesses are facing in 2023, as well as a range of strategies and tactics employers can use to protect themselves and their staff from organised crime and cyber attacks.

Sarah Staff, BSIA Director and Head of SaferCash, said: “On behalf of the British Security Industry Association, our representatives from SaferCash are delighted to join this conference. This is an excellent opportunity to share information and ideas.

“SaferCash has worked for many years with UK Law Enforcement and our industry members to tackle physical organised crime in the high street; this strong collaboration has been a successful model in partnership, and is testimony to how important it is to work together.”

As businesses across Merseyside are facing a unique set of varied challenges, the hope of those speaking at the Safer Business conference is that by working together to give owners and managers all the expertise they need to keep themselves, staff, and customers safe, more will proactively take necessary action.