Briefing on Op Robust

Posted by

Emma White

Posted by

Emma White

From: Chief Inspector Dave Bentley

1.Purpose of briefing To update on what the scale of shoplifting in Surrey is, what we are doing as a police force to address this issue, and what we need from you to best help our efforts in reducing this crime.

2.Background In England and Wales there were approximately 342,343 shoplifting offences recorded by the police in 2022/23, compared with 275,076 in the previous reporting year. In Surrey, we have seen a 26% rise in shoplifting offences over the last 12 months. 4,853 offences were recorded within a 12-month period across our divisions (data taken 5th December 2023) This may be due to several external factors including cost of living and organised crime groups turning to bulk shoplifting. As well as having a devastating financial impact on small businesses, shoplifting can lead to many other issues like anti-social behaviour and shop workers feeling under threat of violence or intimidation. We recognise that Shoplifting can have knock on consequences to other crime types. As we approach Christmas, we also expect to see an increase in seasonal shoplifting. At Surrey Police we are committed to dealing with shoplifters robustly and proactively and to deter shoplifting across the county.

3. What we are doing 1. We are conducting engagement visits to the most prominent shoplifting offenders for each borough - this will focus on ensuring they remain away from crime, have the correct referrals in place and inform them of our robust stance on shoplifting and what the likely policing response would be if they move back to criminality.

  1. Regular visits to the top 10 shoplifting hotspots across the county including crime prevention and security advice. There will also be patrols around these identified areas.

  2. We are also reviewing all active and recent shoplifting investigations, identifying any links between incidents, and making sure all necessary evidence is obtained in advance to ensure the best possible criminal justice outcome.

  3. We will also be focusing more of our activity on high level and prolific offenders to ensure that our knowledge of trends and offenders is utilised as best as possible and fed back into the divisional teams.

  4. Creation of an impactful social media and local media campaign to illustrate the work we are doing to combat shoplifting and to deter criminals from committing these offences in Surrey. The focus of this campaign will be to show the firm action we are taking against shoplifters and to make them think twice.

4. What we need from you In order to combat the increase in shoplifting offences in Surrey, we first need to know about it. Please continue reporting all incidents to us via the online reporting tool or on social media; this information enables us to build a bigger intelligence picture and though it may not look like anything is happening as a direct result of your information, be assured that there is work going on behind the scenes. CCTV footage is crucial in identifying suspects or crime groups that may be involved in shoplifting, so please continue to provide this to us where you can. This can be competed online now with no need for links and physical discs or USBs. Please think about the mechanics of how theft may occur on your premise. What can be changed or adapted to make shoplifting less appealing. Our Design Out Crime Officers (DOCOs) will be able to discuss this with you. Please also share our social media posts, prevention advice and the video of our activities into your audiences. This helps us to reach as many people as possible and deter offenders.

If a crime is in action or you feel in immediate danger, please call 999.