The Coventry division of the West Midlands Police force has revealed in a recent press release that their efforts to halt the spread of organized retail theft in the English city will continue in the new year. Operation Blue Steel, as the organized crime offensive is called, was launched in 2015 with the intent of bringing law enforcement together with city council and other local organizations to share information about suspects and identify opportunities to disrupt criminal activity.
The #OpBlueSteel efforts saw some successes for the West Midland Police last year, including the recovery of illegal firearms, Class A drugs, and cash, as well as the convictions of a number of retail crime gang members. At least 40 suspects have been arrested as part of Operation Blue Steel, according to the Coventry Telegraph.
Coventry Police Superintendent Mary Platt (pictured) emphasizes the fact that Operation Blue Steel is not only after criminal convictions; there are plenty of other opportunities for taking action against crime. “Together with our partners there are lots of other tactics, like civil interventions, we can use to disrupt organized criminality…we will use every means at our disposal to tackle the types of people who behave as though they are above the law,” said Platt. “Our offender management team is keeping tabs on known criminals ensuring they adhere to curfews, bail conditions and terms of prison release licenses − and stepping in swiftly to make arrests should they identify any breaches.
“Raids are being executed on a regular basis and, although not all uncover criminality, our activity disrupts gang suspects and lets them know they can’t rest easily. And we’re making representations at prison parole board hearings and pushing for parole to be refused in cases where we believe the person is a re-offending risk.”
The 2014 British Retail Consortium (BRC) Retail Crime Survey reported that crime cost the UK £603 million in 2013-2014, which was up 18 percent over the previous year. Survey respondents estimated that nearly 40 percent of retail theft is carried out by organized crime groups, which is why local law enforcement organizations, including the Coventry Police, continue to focus strongly on confronting this type of crime. “Organized crime has been named as a priority in the city plan,” said Platt. “It means every organization is pulling together to tackle the issue.”
Image credit: West Midlands Police