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UK Police Boss Encouraging Retailers to Share Data

The police chief in charge of UK business crime is urging businesses to back a public-private partnership to crack organized and industrial-scale crime.

Police are to radically alter their approach to business crime across the UK to drive more intelligence-led investigations and information sharing across force boundaries.

The move is the first step towards a public-private partnership between the business community and the UK’s 43 forces in response to average government policing cuts of 20 percent per constabulary.

The moves, which include encouraging all retail businesses to share business crime data through one, privately-funded intelligence-sharing hub—the National Business Crime Solution (NBCS)—were unveiled at the Retail Fraud conference in London ahead of the election of the UK’s new Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) on May 5.

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National retailers have long bemoaned the poor and inconsistent police response to business crime with a lack of police engagement and prolific thieves often released with a caution, only to be back on the streets stealing on the same day.

Lack of force data sharing has also allowed gangs to travel up and down the UK’s motorway networks stealing with impunity—a major factor in the decision to drive more intelligence-led investigations using cross-border ANPR technology fed into the NBCS.

The NBCS is a crime data sharing platform funded by more than 40 of the UK’s leading retailers, which has so far this year disrupted the activities of a number of the UK’s prolific organised crime gangs, as well as the increasing number of store thieves arriving in the UK from overseas.

National retail business supporters of the NBCS include ASDA, Greggs, Home Retail Group, JD Sports Fashion and Next.

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DCC Susannah Fish OBE, the business crime lead to the National Police Chief’s Council—formerly ACPO——said that the police were encouraging all businesses to share their data through the NBCS, which is also working with business crime partnerships and other crime data sharing platforms to guarantee arrests and join up the activities of organised retail crime gangs, thereby increasing the likelihood of longer, more impactful prison sentences.

So far in 2016 the NBCS has generated 43 arrests of prolific shoplifters—up 59 percent from last year—and provided alerts that have successfully identified 65 known suspects.

In addition, the NBCS has led to the successful apprehension and conviction of a gang of traveling thieves, which resulted in a 23-year prison sentence and the recovery of £23,000 (~ $33,742) worth of stolen goods.

DCC Sue Fish said: “It is great to see that the collective vision of both the police and business in having one centralized intelligence hub is really starting to connect crimes which would have traditionally been viewed as independent. The impact upon organized crime is also impressive, and I am working with my wider law enforcement colleagues to encourage other sectors of the business community to join the NBCS.”

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Colin Culleton, group loss prevention manager for Next and chairman of ORIS’s Retail Loss Prevention Fashion Forum, which comprises many of the heads of security for the high street’s apparel retailers, said: “The police response to retail crime at high street level is arguably more confusing than it has ever been. Every opportunity to collate intelligence and ensure the correct response to habitual organized crime must therefore be taken. The collaborative work between the police, the retailers and the NBCS is critical to the future success in this area.”

Catherine Bowen, policy and stakeholder director for NBCS, said: “We now have critical momentum with the police and proof of concept for this intelligence-led data sharing with participating retailers being able to seriously disrupt the activities of both home-grown and Europe-wide traveling gangs—and all for £15 (~ $22) per day*. This response to risk approach also means that the police are able to target their resources and build stronger intelligence relationships with businesses in their force area and with their neighboring constabularies.

“Equally, businesses are better equipped to take better preventative action because of the early alerting of emerging crime trends,” she added.

*Cost based upon a national retailer with 100 stores

For more information and a link to the National Business Crime Solution video shown at the Retail Fraud Conference, visit the NBCS website at or contact Catherine Bowen on 0333 136 3191 or enquiries (at) nationalbusinesscrimesolution (dot) com

The NBCS quarterly report can also be downloaded here.

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