Wirral Policing team highlights new retail theft initiative

Officers from the Wirral Neighbourhood Policing team are launching a new initiative which aims to encourage more businesses to report retail crime and theft.

The launch coincides with Neighbourhood Policing Week, taking place from 22 to 28 January, and aims to highlight the importance of neighbourhood policing and the positive impact Merseyside Police teams have on communities by serving the public, reducing crime, and keeping people safe. 

Retail theft is a serious issue for a lot of retailers. Last year, Primark in Liscard alone reported losses of over £200,000, despite employing a full-time security guard.

Yet despite the consequences of these losses, a lot of retail crime still goes under-reported which without the data, prevents local policing from allocating resources to tackle the issue.

Through conversations with local retailers, local neighbourhood officers understand that some of the reasons for not reporting are down to the perceived length of call times and lack of awareness of alternative reporting options.

This is supported by the national British Retail Consortium 2023 Retail Crime Survey, which concluded one of the most common reasons for not reporting, given by 64% of retailers, was the belief that the reporting system was ‘too difficult’.

To help find a solution, Wirral neighbourhood policing teams are rolling out a new QR code, which once scanned, links that person directly to the online reporting page on the Merseyside Police website. This allows for easier and faster completion and once submitted, a crime reference number is generated which is required to start the investigative process.

The trial will be rolled out to local shops and businesses in Wallasey from mid-January onwards, but then it will be extended to further shopping destinations including The Croft Retail Park, Birkenhead Town Centre, JunctionONE Retail Park, and The Rock Retail Park.

Local Neighbourhood Policing Officer, Constable “Nicola Irlam said, “It is great to be able to offer this solution, as despite its simplicity, we know it will make crime reporting so much easier and less time-consuming.

“The added benefit of these QR codes is that they can be displayed in a multitude of retail spaces, so in addition to back-of-house security and staff rooms, they can be put in and around the shopfloor area. This allows customers to report something going on in their area, or an issue that they might not have felt comfortable reporting at home.”

Craig Winstanley, a Sergeant within the Liverpool Neighbourhood Policing Team who developed this initiative said, “The reason behind creating the initiative is two-fold, not only does it simplify the process of reporting, but it also benefits us from an investigative standpoint too. Having a crime reference number allows us to build the analytical data we need to better understand where and why these incidents are happening, so we can piece this together and inform our targeted activity.

“We find that a lot of retailers can help identify their repeat offenders, so working together, we can help to put the measures in place to prevent the issues from reoccurring, whether that be putting them before the courts or using other tactics such as Criminal Behaviour Orders, which prevent them from visiting that area.

“I am pleased to hear it is being rolled out across Wirral now too, we launched it to retailers in the Liverpool City Centre area two months ago and have received a lot of positive feedback. We have already seen an increase in reports too, including a broader range of businesses that maybe wouldn’t have taken the time previously.”

The support of communities is vital in helping police pursue offenders, prevent crime, and protect people. If you have information about crime or anti-social behaviour occurring anywhere in Merseyside, please tell Merseyside Police via its social media desk on X @MerPolCC or Facebook ‘Merseyside Police Contact Centre’, or by reporting on the Merseyside Police website at: www.merseyside.police.uk

You can also pass information via Crimestoppers anonymously, on 0800 555 111 or via their online form at: crimestoppers-uk.org

If you are interested in joining the police and have aspirations to help people and make a difference in the communities of Merseyside, you can search vacancies on the Merseyside Police website at: www.merseyside.police.uk/police-forces/merseyside-police/areas/careers/join-us/

Image: Merseyside Police

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