Wiltshire’s PCC: ‘We want our retail sector to feel – and be – safe’
Wiltshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has said Wiltshire Police is tackling the county’s retail business concerns around acquisitive crime but recognised there have been instances where an expected level of policing response hasn’t happened.
Both the PCC and Wiltshire Police’s Chief Constable have responded to an open letter from the Association of Convenience Stores written to all police and crime commissioners in the country earlier this week.
The group, which represents the retail business sector and shop workers, joined with several other organisations to highlight the crime challenges faced by their members after the Home Secretary wrote to police leaders about business crime.
Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Wilkinson welcomed the letter and said he was aware the retail sector in the county reflected that national picture.
He said:“Businesses do have a right to feel frustrated – especially when they do not get an expected level of response from their local force to reported crimes. There have been several cases across Wiltshire where this has happened and it is clear our business community is not feeling safe. I want them to know, we are listening and responding to their concerns.
“The Chief Constable and I are determined Wiltshire Police will be more proactive, and robust, in its response to the commercial sector’s concerns. A range of interventions by the force is being worked upon – and plans to further increase visibility and tackle repeat shoplifting offenders, with the Chief directing a more strategic, and embedded, approach to retail crime to be included as part the Force’s overall policing response.
“As ever, the police do have finite resources – and they must be used where the most threat, harm and risk is identified – but that doesn’t mean Wiltshire’s business and retail sector must bear the brunt of that.
“My office is also engaging with local businesses and I am listening to their concerns and scrutinising 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 manage our town and city centres to make them safer places to live, work and visit.”
Wiltshire’s Chief Constable Catherine Roper confirmed that all reasonable lines of enquiry would be followed and urged retail businesses and shop workers to continue to report crimes, intelligence and provide CCTV footage.
Chief Constable Roper said: “Retail crime is becoming an increasing concern across Wiltshire, and I do not underestimate the misery it is causing business owners.
“As the public would rightly expect, we do have to prioritise our attendance at incidents which present the most risk, harm and threat to communities– however, through direct engagement with retailers, we are developing improved support to them through our frontline policing teams.
“Shoplifting is often an ‘indicator’ crime to other challenges in an area, such as organised criminality or drug supply – and can also often disproportionally involve young people.
“For us to properly support our victims and communities, we do need to focus more attention to this type of criminality, which is intrinsically linked to the force priority of ‘Safer Public Spaces’.
“My ask of business owners is to please keep reporting any such criminality and supply any intelligence and CCTV.
“We do take all reports of crime seriously and will follow all reasonable lines of enquiry to hold people to account for their actions.”