PCC urges Wiltshire Police to set their stall out on retail crime
Philip Wilkinson, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon wants Wiltshire Police to use Operation Dasher as a template for how they respond to retail crime in the county.
The initiative was introduced in Swindon more than a decade ago due to the increased footfall in the town and the accompanying rise in crime and anti-social behaviour across the festive period.
Across the busy Christmas period, neighbourhood teams will be conducting high visibility operations and patrols across the town centre and out of town shopping locations focusing on the day-time economy and extended late night business opening hours until Christmas Eve.
The teams from across the town will be working with partners such as Swindon Borough Council CCTV operators and street wardens, Pubwatch and store security staff to ensure everyone has a safe and merry Christmas.
With an increase in the number of officers being placed into neighbourhood policing teams, Mr Wilkinson wants to see a change in the way retail crime is dealt with:
“We know that this time of year is potentially lucrative for organised crime groups as they target businesses at the busiest period for retailers.
“I’ve challenged Wiltshire Police to do better, to be more robust and to take action when it’s needed in terms of business crime. It's crucial they use a more strategic, and embedded, approach, as part of their overall policing response.
“Operation Dasher is the right opportunity to set the standards of the type of service businesses should expect and as ever, I will continue to scrutinise the police response on their behalf, alongside encouraging other partners, such as local authorities, to look more closely at how we can all work together more effectively to tackle this growing problem.”
Swindon neighbourhood officer PC Paul Bezzant said: “We run Op Dasher over the Christmas period annually as part of our ongoing efforts to tackle acquisitive crime and anti-social behaviour in Swindon town centre.
“We know there is an increase in crime over this busy period and in the lead up to Christmas, so you’re likely to see more officers out and about to combat this and to offer reassurance to the public and business community across Swindon.
“Officers will also meet with partners regularly to share intelligence and any other relevant information which will then be passed on to local businesses and shops.
“We want people who are going about their business in Swindon to feel safe and are hopeful that this approach will achieve this.”
Tips to avoid becoming a victim of crime when you are out and about during the Christmas period: • When out shopping, keep your purse and handbag with you; don’t leave it in your trolley or unattended • Keep any cash you may have on you to a minimum • Mobile phones and wallets in back pockets are a target - keep secure and out of sight • Be careful at cash machines and when paying by card - shield your PIN at all times. With more shoppers about, there are inevitably more vehicles in car parks, offering more opportunities for criminals. Don’t let your vehicle be an easy target: • Don’t leave Christmas presents or valuables like laptops, mobile phones, handbags, credit cards or cheque books in your car. If unavoidable – put them in the boot and ensure equipment is completely switched off • Remove Satnavs, clean away suction marks on windows and make sure car doors, windows and sunroofs are all properly closed and locked • Leave absolutely nothing on show - you may know that there is no wallet in your jacket, but a thief will break a window just to check. • If you own a van, remove tools overnight and display an appropriate sign in the rear window making this clear. If you are a victim of crime or want to report suspicious behaviour to us, please call 101 or 999 in an emergency. Alternatively, if you wish to remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.