Westminster Legal Policy Forum

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Next steps for tackling shoplifting and retail crime in England and Wales - Retail Crime Action Plan | Pegasus initiative | implementation priorities | reducing offending rates | surveillance and sanctions | innovation

June 2024

Price: £150 PLUS VAT

This conference focused on next steps for tackling shoplifting and retail crime in England and Wales.

It was an opportunity to discuss key issues at a time of heightened focus on this area of policy in the run up to the General Election.

It followed the announcement by the Prime Minister of new measures to tackle retail crime, under which assaulting a shop worker will be made a standalone criminal offence, and perpetrators could be sent to prison for up to six months and receive unlimited fines. Delegates also discussed legislative proposals to make repeat offenders wear tags and increase the use of facial recognition technology.

Delegates examined policy options and the launch of the NPCC’s new Retail Crime Action Plan, committing to urgently attending scenes of violent shoplifting, alongside the Pegasus initiative, a business-police partnership, which aims to improve intelligence sharing to better identify offenders.

Looking at implementation plans for the strategy, discussion considered implications for a range of stakeholders, including proposals for increasing police presence at the scene, hotspot patrolling in high-crime areas, and development and implementation of problem-solving plans using the SARA model for high-risk areas.

Delegates assessed whether plans go far enough, looking at adequately protecting and training retail staff, and concern over possible displacement of retail crime.

Discussion considered priorities for effective cross-sector collaboration through data sharing and the formation of the new OPAL national team, as well as best practice for retailers in providing best possible evidence for police to pursue cases.

The conference was also an opportunity to explore the suitability of using AI technologies such as facial recognition to identify repeat offenders amidst concerns over biases in the use of such technologies.

In light of proposals to move away from short-term prison sentences, delegates also discussed how this may affect rates of retail crime in the future, the impact on retail workers, and priorities for effective deterrent strategies moving forward.

Keynote speakers who have agreed to take part include: Katy Bourne OBE, Police and Crime Commissioner, Sussex; James Lowman, Chief Executive, Association of Convenience Stores; and Professor Emmeline Taylor, Professor of Criminology, School of Policy and Global Affairs, City, University of London.

Overall, areas for discussion included:

  • current retail crime landscape: addressing key issues for small retailers - priorities moving forward in light of offending figures rising
  • Retail Crime Action Plan: assessing the scope - parameters of the Pegasus partnership - impact on stakeholders, including retailers, local authorities, police and society more broadly
  • implementation: increased hotspot policing - training priorities - protecting staff - cross-sector collaboration models - data sharing - funding and resources
  • sanctions: exploring current regulation - how the justice system can respond effectively to retail crime - priorities for reducing reoffending moving forward - addressing possible societal factors
  • alternative approaches: assessing positions of opposition parties and their strategies for tackling shoplifting and retail crime
  • innovation: the future of self-service check outs and priorities for managing retail crime with their increased use - implementing CCTV, facial recognition and new technology, including AI
  • surveillance: addressing concerns around biases, disproportionality, and increased powers for government and police - considering the use of facial recognition to tackle repeat offenders
  • policy: priorities for tackling retail crime and shoplifting moving forward

The conference was an opportunity for stakeholders to consider the issues in the presence of key policy officials who attended from DBT; DLUHC; the Home Office; ICO; MOJ; NAO; Probation Service; and the Welsh Government.

This on-demand pack includes

  • A full video recording of the conference as it took place, with all presentations, Q&A sessions, and remarks from chairs
  • An automated transcript of the conference
  • Copies of the slides used to accompany speaker presentations (subject to permission
  • Access to on-the-day materialfs, including speaker biographies, attendee lists and the agenda