New measures to tackle business crime in Merseyside roll out on Safer Business Action Day

Two police officers in a shop

Today, the region’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Emily Spurrell, officers from Merseyside Police and businesses across the region are joining forces for Safer Business Action Day.

Local policing teams will be undertaking proactive patrols, plain clothed operations, talking to shop owners and engaging with local communities to show their commitment to tackling business-related crime.

From today, a QR code reporting system is rolling out for Merseyside businesses, to make reporting crimes such as shoplifting easier for security and staff. Advertised on stickers in retail spaces, once scanned the QR code links directly to the police online reporting page.

It allows for easier and faster reporting as once submitted, a crime reference number is generated which starts the investigative process.

Working in collaboration with Liverpool BID, the QR code has been trialled in Liverpool City Centre since September 2023 and has received positive feedback, with a significant increase in reporting during this time.

To further protect businesses and shop premises from burglaries and robberies, 100 SelectaDNA Intruder Spray kits will be installed in shops across the city centre, funded by the PCC and the police.

It’s hoped that the offender marking sprays, only used by security guards and retail staff following specialist training, will deter offenders from committing crimes in shop premises, keep stock from becoming stolen goods and protect customers and shop workers, who work tirelessly to serve communities.

Once sprayed at an offender, a unique DNA code is left that is only visible under UV light. It remains on the offender for weeks and can be used to forensically link offenders back to a particular incident, enhancing the likelihood of a successful conviction in court.

ACC for Local Policing, Criminal Justice and Prevention, Jenn Wilson, will be joining Liverpool officers on patrol and handing out body-worn cameras to independent retailers at St Johns Shopping Centre and Bold Street. The overt cameras, worn on the uniform of staff, aim to deter antisocial behaviour from the outset and provide the police with additional evidence when investigating crime.

The day will also feature a Retail Forum, where more than 30 retailers and business groups will meet with local officers and the PCC to set out tangible actions to tackle shoplifting and violence towards shop workers.

While this day of action is designed to raise awareness and clamp down on business crime, officers and partners work every day to tackle issues that stores and customers alike experience.

The Liverpool City Centre Joint Agency Group (CCJAG) is a multi-agency group that works collaboratively to tackle issues around business crime – it includes representatives from Merseyside Police, Liverpool City Council, Liverpool BID Company, Liverpool One, St Johns Shopping Centre, Metquarter, Royal Albert Dock and Clayton Square.

In September 2023, the CCJAG set out new measures to target offenders and keep retail workers and the wider public safe, including:

• Joint patrols with Liverpool One and St Johns teams
• Dedicated SelectaDNA spray kit training for security guards and retail staff
• The roll-out of the QR code reporting system for businesses
• Further promotion of the DISC intelligence sharing platform, which allows businesses to share information that will assist in identifying shoplifters
• Providing city centre businesses with a dedicated police officer from the local policing team
• Enhancements to the BID radio network, connecting more than 180 active businesses to provide reassurance and intelligence sharing.

A police officer holding a QR code

Since these new measures have been introduced, between September 2023 and January 2024, there has been an increase in crime reports being received by the force from retailers by 37.5% (when compared to the previous 12-month period).

Alongside this increase in the number of reported offences, there has also been a parallel increase in the number of positive outcomes, where offenders have been identified and robust action taken against them when comparing the afore mentioned five months to the five months prior to the new initiatives having been introduced (April 2023 to August 2023).

The number of offenders who have been charged and put before the court for shop theft offences in the City Centre has increased by 47.8% and the number of people receiving a caution has increased by 85.7%.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: “Retailers and businesses are the backbone of our communities.

“They provide a vital service to our communities, and I’m committed to supporting initiatives which protect them, their employees, and their customers. One way we can do this is by investing in vital funds into positive schemes which can prevent crime and improve the safety of businesses.

“As we mark Safer Business Action Day, I’m pleased we can announce these new measures all focused on tackling business-related crime. I’m also looking forward to meeting with retailers and business groups to discuss how we can work even closer together to keep retail workers safe and prevent the harm business crime can cause.”

ACC for Local Policing, Criminal Justice and Prevention Jenn Wilson said: “We continue to engage with retailers to offer crime prevention advice and support as part of our commitment to keeping business in Merseyside safe. The impact of retail crime is significant on staff working within those businesses, other customers who are present and the business itself.

“We will continue to work in collaboration with retailers and partners, to prevent crime from occurring and tackle habitual or repeat perpetrators ensuring we protect staff, customers and businesses from this type of criminality.

“This is being delivered by providing a visible presence on our high streets, dealing with reported crimes efficiently whilst supporting retailers with crime prevention advice and measures such as body worn cameras to deter crime and provide more opportunity for evidence to be collected ensuring offenders are brought to justice.”

Liverpool Inspector Jack Woodward, the force lead for Business Crime said: “Safer Business Action Day provides us with a great opportunity to engage with retailers and businesses and show our ongoing commitment to reducing retail crime and pursuing those offenders who cause misery within our communities.

“We recognise the impact business crime has on staff, customers, and the wider economy. That’s why we are committed to delivering a visible, targeted, and robust response to shoplifting and the violence and abuse against shop workers, to help make our high streets and retail spaces across Merseyside safer for us all.

“By working together with businesses, we have been able to identify and apprehend repeat offenders, set measures in place such as Criminal Behaviour Orders and put prolific shoplifters behind bars.

“Our work doesn’t stop when this day of action ends – so please come forward with any information about retail crime in your area so we can continue to disrupt and apprehend offenders who blight communities.”

Shaun Holland, Director of Operations, Liverpool BID Company, said: “We are committed to being the voice of our businesses around the table for Safer Business Action Day. This is a part of national wider week of action that articulates the challenges our businesses face day in and day out, from shoplifting to threatening and violent behaviour.

“It's vital we work closely with our partners at Merseyside Police to ensure that the concerns of those who keep our high streets and city centres are both reported and acted on. We understand the pressures our partners are under, with not enough resources, but these are crimes that impact on everyone in our city, and we welcome the opportunity to make them heard.

“We will also share success stories, particularly our DISC app which is helping the reporting of crime from the shopfloor, empowering our retail partners and their staff. It's important that we all come together to show we take this seriously and we are united in our fight against this kind of crime.”