Nottinghamshire Police has been recognised nationally for introducing a range of measures to tackle shoplifting.
Officers’ work has attracted two nominations for national awards with methods focusing on enforcement, prevention, and rehabilitation.
National coverage has suggested that shoplifting is becoming an ‘epidemic’ nationwide with thieves striking regularly.
Between January to August 2023, officers attended more than 1,000 incidents of shoplifting and charged shoplifters with 1,454 offences.
Positive outcomes now sit at 25 per cent in Nottinghamshire.
Nottingham has introduced its own priority retail crime team in the city with plans to expand the offer across the county.
However, the focus has not been entirely on enforcement but vital partnership work with businesses.
This has included a strategic group of police officers and retailers to share intelligence on those causing the most harm to businesses.
The group also shares best practice on staff safety and ensuring CCTV is of the very best quality to help secure a conviction.
Criminal Behaviour Orders – which can ban offenders from shops and even the city centre – have also been introduced for the most prolific offenders.
An ex-offender is also working with local businesses to discuss store layout and how to make it harder for shoplifters to strike.
This includes where certain products should be placed on the shelves.
Fast-track rehabilitation has also been offered to a number of local offenders with substance misuse problems paid for by the retail sector and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
Chief Superintendent Sukesh Verma, Head of Local Policing, said: “Shoplifting is a huge issue because evidence suggest that it can fuel substance misuse addiction and can lead to other criminality such as lining the pockets of drug dealers.
“There is a perception that shoplifting is a victimless crime and against a faceless corporation. This could not be further from the truth.
“Our local people work in these shops, and they should not have to go to work with fear of being threatened, intimidated, attacked, or watch this type of behaviour take place.
“The more people entrenched in substance misuse the more desperate they will be to get their fix and we need to break that reoffending cycle.
“We also want to build trust and confidence across the retail sector that if a crime happens in their store, then we will respond.”
The majority of shoplifting offences are carried out by those with substance misuse problems who sell on stolen items for drugs including heroin and crack cocaine.
The second group is organised criminal groups who steal items in bulk such as alcohol, toys, and designer clothes to sell on, sometimes overseas.
Chief Superintendent Verma added: “There is still lots of work to do. However, we have already put measures in place to reduce the impact that shoplifting has on our local community and will continue to do so over the coming months.
“It is important that help and support is available for anyone with drug addiction but if they continue to refuse that help and continue to act in a criminal way then will ensure more drastic measures are taken. Some of our most prolific offenders are now serving time behind bars or are banned from the city centre.
“Despite shoplifting hitting the national news recently, it is still a fairly under-reported area of crime.
“It is important that we build trust and confidence amongst the local business community so they feel confident not only reporting a crime to us but that we will actually act on the information they provide us.”