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Police back campaign to #ShopKind

November 22, 2021
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Police are backing a national campaign to protect shop workers from violence and abuse.

The Shop Kind campaign, led by the Home Office, unites the retail sector and encourages positive behaviour in shops as well as acknowledging the important role shop workers play in our communities.

The force’s support for the campaign follows a series of successes throughout the county, including a crackdown on shoplifting in Clifton, which saw offences plummet and a number of prolific offenders locked up across the county.

When officers attend reports of shoplifting, they consider other offences, as well as considering the steps they can take to better support the staff affected, including patrols and regular engagement with shop staff.

Officers also work to refer offenders, where appropriate, for rehabilitation and ensure they get any necessary help for issues such as addiction and mental health.

Local teams also regularly work with a variety of university students studying a policing and investigations degree to positively engage with the shops. The undergraduates have the opportunity to become a police volunteer and go out into the community.

Operation Reacher officers will also be out conducting proactive shoplifting patrols in Nottingham city centre throughout the week.

Retail theft incidents often include acts or threats of violence towards shop workers and officers, and according to government figures, around 400 shop workers are abused everyday across the UK, with reports nationally that some have been threatened with weapons like knives and hammers.

PC Joanna Baxter, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “Retail crime can often be seen as a victimless crime. However when shop staff suffer threats by these offenders they can be left living in fear both inside and outside of the workplace.

“We need to understand that and think carefully about what additional steps we can put in place to protect that person.

“That could include investigating someone for more serious offences such as affray, and also considering other civil measures such as community behaviour orders.

“Incidents can very often go hand in hand with addiction and mental health issues. So, we proactively look to assist with referring those who require support for this to the relevant organisations and ensure they get the help they need. By tackling any potential underlying factors, our aim is to prevent any further incidents.

“We’re encouraging local businesses and shop staff to get involved in this campaign and make use of the resources on the Home Office website.”

Earlier this year, proactive work by officers saw success in tackling cases of shoplifting after local businesses in Clifton raised concerns in the area.

By working closely with local shops, a huge dossier of evidence against a number of prolific shoplifters was gathered and they all received significant prison sentences as a result.

Following the crackdown, shoplifting fell by 34 per cent over a three-month period compared to the same period the previous year.

Among these was Aaron Kelly, who was considered as one of the area’s most prolific shoplifters. The 31-year-old, of no fixed address, was jailed for 26 weeks following his conviction of 41 crimes which included stealing gift sets, food and makeup.

Sasha Irwin, of Porter Close, Clifton, was also jailed after admitting a string of shoplifting offences. She received a six-week jail sentence.

The success is largely considered to be down to the operation, which was launched by the local team to tackle a rise in shoplifting following the opening of big-name stores, including Co-Op and Boots.

Clifton’s Neighbourhood Policing Sergeant Nigel Bradley said: “These convictions were the result of excellent and persistent work by our local officers.

“A number of shops in Clifton were being continually targeted and their co-operation have been invaluable in collecting the evidence.

“The Clifton Police team support local businesses and respond immediately when incidents are reported to ensure we maintain a good working relationship.

“Local officers have worked tirelessly to reduce shoplifting offences. By working closely with partners and residents we have ensured prolific shoplifters are serving long prison sentences.

“This sends a message that criminal activity will not be tolerated and we will continue to work with our partners in reducing such behaviour."

Recent cases elsewhere in Nottinghamshire include Joseph Haxby, 35, of Cinderhill Walk, Nottingham, who was jailed for four months after stealing from Boots inside the Victoria Centre and then threatening staff who challenged him.

Cory Beckford Smith, 39, of Peveril Street, Nottingham, was also jailed for two years and three months in August for multiple shop thefts and court breaches.

Iona Blake, Security and Incident Manager at Boots, said: “At Boots, we have been very active in working with others in the retail industry as well as local authorities and police forces to tackle violence and abuse towards retail workers.

“Locally, we work very closely with Nottinghamshire Police to tackle these issues and bring perpetrators to justice. It is fantastic to see Nottinghamshire officers getting involved in this campaign alongside retailers to raise awareness of this issue.

“Our team members in stores have a right to work in a safe and respectful environment.”

Victoria Crorken, Group Head of Risk for The Co-op, said: “As retailers, our priority is to protect our store colleagues. It isn’t part of their job to be physically assaulted or verbally abused while serving their local communities.

“We want our shop workers to be treated with the respect they deserve and have worked closely with Nottinghamshire Police to identify and prosecute those offenders who have caused the most harm.”

#Philip Jackson, Chairman of Worksop and Retford Shopwatch, said "Shopwatch fully supports Nottinghamshire Police in its involvement with the Shop Kind campaign. Shop workers should not have to put up with abuse and violence.

“Shopwatch is well supported by the police who deal with our violent and abusive shoplifting offenders. We encourage our member stores to report all violent and abusive customers to the police.”

Philip who has a retail background went on to say:  "Shop staff do a great job and the public should always respect them and approach any issues they may have with a shop in a respectful manner".

ShopKind is a Home Office backed national campaign to tackle violence and abuse against shopworkers. To find resources you can use for your business, and find out more about the campaign, visit the dedicated ShopKind page.

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