Shoplifting taskforce to receive just 8p per offence from government

The new task force has been welcomed by retail but many are frustrated it got to this point, ITV News Correspondent CarI Davies reports

Ministers have unveiled a new police taskforce to tackle shoplifting - but the new 'Pegasus' partnership will receive just £30,000 per year from the government, which is equivalent to around 8p per offence.

Police minister Chris Philp chaired a meeting involving police chiefs and 13 of the UK's biggest retailers, which will also contribute £30,000 to the plan to reduce offending.

The plan includes a police commitment to urgently attend the scene of shoplifting instances involving violence against a shop worker and where security guards have detained an offender or where attendance is needed to secure evidence.

Shoplifting has increased by 29% in the UK in the past year, Mr Philp said, adding that the "rise in offending is unacceptable and there is much more to do to stop it happening in the first place".

Credit: Boots

“I want a new zero-tolerance approach to tackling shoplifting. It is a blight on our highstreets and communities and puts the livelihoods of traders at risk. I am determined to drive forward change."

But it is retailers which are being asked to contribute the bulk of funding, with the likes of John Lewis, the Co-op, M&S, Boots, Primark and several more all contributing £30,000 per year each.

The Home Office is also contributing £30,000 in the first year of the partnership. There were 365,164 shoplifting offences recorded by police last year, meaning the new government funding equates to just 8.2p per offence.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson, Alistair Carmichael MP labelled the policy "coppers for cops".

He said: “Conservative ministers have taken thousands of community officers off the streets, now they’re offering chump change towards tackling this theft epidemic.

“Instead of yet more gimmicks that are bound to fail, the home secretary needs to invest in proper community policing and ensure crimes are investigated.

"The government's current failed approach is letting organised criminal gangs off the hook and leaving shopkeepers vulnerable.”

The majority of funding will go towards the creation of a dedicated team of specialist analysts and intelligence officers to work within OPAL – the national policing team that oversees intelligence on serious organised acquisitive crime, the government said.

"Recruitment has already started, and the team will be operational later this month, delivering outcomes across the country by the New Year," said the Home Office.

There will also be a new information sharing platform and training for retailers which will advise them on the best ways to share evidence with police.

Credit: Boots

Police Crime Commissioner for Sussex Katy Bourne, who spearheaded the Retail Crime Action Plan, said the Pegasus partnership "will be a game changer in the fight against retail crime".

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said the publication of the plan showed that police and the Government would take seriously “the torrent of thefts and other offences committed against businesses”.

He added: “Convenience retailers are facing unprecedented levels of theft against their businesses at the hands of prolific offenders who are targeting stores repeatedly without fear of reproach.

“These incidents take a huge toll on retailers and their colleagues, so it’s crucial that every incident reported to the police gets investigated and is something that we have been calling for in conversations with ministers and police representatives.”

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