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Pictures: Police operation in Nottingham city centre tackles shoplifting and weapons

A prolific shoplifter tried to evade arrest by sneaking into a barber shop for a haircut.

Officers knew something wasn’t right when the 46-year-old ducked into a barber shop when he saw police coming.

In seconds he was back on Radford Road to explain why he had a shopping bag full of hair products.

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He admitted to stealing 16 bottles from Boots in Beeston on March 25 and was interviewed for shoplifting offences.

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This is just one of the many good results from Operation Compass -a plain-clothed and uniformed police team based in Nottingham city centre.

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Already they have made more than 130 arrests this year – mainly working out of plain sight so the public can’t always see them.

Dressed in casual wear – jeans, shorts, hoodies, and trainers – their rucksacks contain handcuffs, and their headphones are hooked up to the police radio.

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The team mainly target those coming into the city to commit crime including shoplifters, drug dealers, knife carriers and those causing anti-social behaviour.

Working in disguise ensures they can observe criminals up close without them ever realising they are there.

They are also supported by uniformed officers who drive around the city in a marked van, also looking for those likely to offend.

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Within three minutes of the team being out on March 25, they located a violent offender who hasn’t adhered to his electronic tag conditions.

As he is escorted to Radford Road custody suite to face the consequences, police notice one of the city’s most prolific shoplifters acting shadily.

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As soon as he sees the van, he dives into a local barber shop despite having no hair on his head. He is escorted out by officers and searched when they find a bag full of stolen goods on him.

Sergeant Jonathan Pothecary, who leads the Op Compass team, said: “He really chose the wrong place to hide from police.


“This is why Op Compass is such a good team – it knows all the faces of those coming into the city to commit crime and we will continuously disrupt their day.

“Sometimes they will say ‘why don’t you leave us alone?’ and we say: ‘we will if you stop coming into Nottingham to commit crime.’

“We enforce but we also engage. Some of this crime is fuelled by drug addiction and we will offer them support but if they don’t want to take it then we will act.”

In North Sherwood Street, a group of men have gathered outside residential properties to smoke drugs from a pipe.

Police find a quantity of crack cocaine hidden in one of the group’s waistbands.

He assures police he has ‘no more on him’ but following a strip search, he hasn’t been telling the truth and heroin is also discovered. He is interviewed for drug offences.

Two other men are also stopped and searched just outside Old Market Square, and heroin and a needle are found in a tin. They are known for causing harassment, alarm, and distress to members of the public.

Officers also notice a suspicious group of young men walking through the city and decide to pounce on Weekday Cross.

A 21-year-old man is concealing a large kitchen knife and is arrested for carrying a bladed article in a public place.

His friend is also concealing cannabis in a jewellery box, claiming it was a present for his girlfriend.

On the way to Radford Road custody suite, a man, 42, is also stopped for breaching his Criminal Behaviour Order banning him from the city centre.

He is smoking mamba in a phone box and is arrested.

Sergeant Pothecary said: “Our aim is make the city a place where criminals just can’t operate. We want people to come into Nottingham and enjoy the many facilities it has to offer and for businesses to thrive. If we continue to target those who are determined to ruin that then eventually they should realise they can’t continue down this path and not expect the consequences.

“Also, it is important for the public to know that just because you can’t always see us does not mean we aren’t there. Op Compass is a prime example of where plain clothed officers and uniformed officers are working together to ensure criminals are kept out of the city.”

•  Update: Police say ‘bones are not ancient’ after human remains found in Nottinghamshire

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