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Scarman Centre's input to project praised by MP

Barbara Follett, MP for Stevenage, visits the Birmingham Retail Crime Operation

Barbara Follett, MP, with Birmingham retail crime partnership THE RIGHT APPROACH: 
[front right] Barbara Follett, MP for Stevenage, pictured during her visit to a retail crime partnership at Birmingham. Ann Blakeman from the University of Leicester's Scarman Centre is pictured front left

The Scarman Centre, University of Leicester, demonstrated that it is leading the way in assisting retailers with crime prevention when Barbara Follett, MP for Stevenage and Chair of the All Party Retail Committee, visited Birmingham Retail Crime Operation on Sunday, May 12.  

Ann Blakeman arranged the visit to Birmingham - this city was chosen because it is one of a number of sites currently working with the Scarman Centre. Also present were Paul Smedley, Chief Executive of Midlands Regional Crime Initiative; Chris James, Managing Director of Retail Crime Operation Birmingham; Michael Schuck of the British Retail Consortium and William Price of Retail Decisions. 

This was an opportunity for Barbara Follett to gain insight into retail crime partnerships, now emerging on a national basis. The Birmingham Retail Crime Operation is retailer led and focuses on reducing retailer loss by means of identifying known offenders and excluding them from member stores. Police statistics show a 57.5% drop in arrests for shop theft between 1997 and 2001 in Birmingham city centre. This is concurrent with police data showing a decline in recorded shop theft. Crime reduction of this nature has a large financial implication and makes the city centre a safer, more attractive place for retail staff and shoppers.

The core focus of retail crime partnerships is persistent offenders and they are being targeted by the Business Intelligence Crime System (BICS). BICS collects, disseminates and uses retail crime intelligence in a completely new way so as to allow crime analysis by type of store attacked, type of merchandise stolen and its value, particulars of the offender’s modus operandi, details of the day and time of attack, and the name and any aliases of the offender, together with circulation of a CCTV or police photograph and previous retail crime history. 

The BICS database is installed or is about to be installed in up to 250 town or shopping centres that have established retail crime reduction partnerships as part of their local community safety strategy. The next stage in BICS is to connect the sites so they are able to share intelligence on travelling offenders. The Economic and Social Research Council provided funding for a two-year independent evaluation of BICS, based on a study of twelve pilot sites. This is now underway and is being conducted by the Scarman Centre.

Barbara Follett was strongly supportive of retail crime partnerships and was impressed with the success of the scheme.  She commented that the Birmingham operation offers a “strong example” of retail crime reduction partnerships making a “real contribution” to security, shoppers, retail staff and town centre safety. She also said that independent evaluation by the Scarman Centre was a “key feature of the project.”  Ann Blakeman added, “The retailers have seized the crime prevention initiative, the Scarman Centre is measuring its success and we are confident Mrs Follett will promote government support for this type of initiative.”

May 2002

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Last updated: 17 May 2002 10:55
Created by: Rachel Tunstall
Created by: Barbara Whiteman

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