Police bid to reduce Isle shop crime

Police have linked with a major supermarket chain to launch a major clamp-down on thefts and anti-social behaviour in shops across the Isle and North Lincolnshire.

Operation Sodium is a Humberside-wide bid to reduce shop theft, which accounts for over 10 per cent of all crime reported to police.

To reduce this figure the force realised a new approach was needed to prevent offences so that more offences and allow police to focus more on highly vulnerable outlets and on bringing prolific offenders to justice.

Police will direct more resources towards reducing crime using support and training to stores.

The intention of Operation Sodium is to:

•reduce crime around stores;

•work in partnership with retailers by maintaining relationships and sharing intelligence;

•shift emphasis from reactive to proactive policing;

•encourage retailers to deter crime;

•encourage retailers and local officers to use restorative approaches to dealing with suitable offenders.

Operation Sodium stores receive a retail crime survey to highlight areas where crime prevention improvements can be made, for instance the layout of products, CCTV systems used, staff deployment, etc.

Staff are given training in how to identify potential shoplifters, how to deter them stealing from stores and how to deal with conflict situations. For management this also included how to deal with shoplifters.

Operation Sodium involves police and retailers developing much closer links with a dedicated member of the local Neighbourhood Policing Team. Detective Chief Inspector Dave Houchin, the Humberside police lead for retail crime said: “Nationally and locally shop theft is increasing and as a force we are keen to stop this trend by working closely with retailers and other partner agencies. Key to this is Operation Sodium, which is an exciting new approach to tackling the problem. It allows the police to focus on dealing with prolific shoplifters and those who pose the greatest threat to retail workers and customers’ safety; while retailers prevent offences in their stores through proactive methods.

“I am delighted that Asda Supermarkets are adopting the approach and it shows they are committed to supporting policing in the area, while providing a safe shopping environment to work and shop. They are also showing an excellent community spirit by working with local NPT’s to hold community safety events where crime prevention and safety advice will be available to members of the public.

“I hope in the future all stores will embrace this partnership approach to tackling shop theft, anti-social behaviour and other criminality around their stores. This will undoubtedly help the force reduce crime figure and bring prolific offenders to justice.”

Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Grove said: “It’s very important we deal with shop theft by preventative measures, rather than reacting after the event, and we can only do that by working in partnership with retailers and getting their commitment to tackle the problem alongside the police. It’s reassuring to see major retailers like Asda sharing our vision, and I am confident that Operation Sodium will be expanded across the retail sector in the coming months.”