As the public’s voice in policing, PCC John Campion held an assurance and accountability session with Temporary Chief Constable Alex Murray on Monday 29 January.
With the full meeting now available to watch on the PCC’s YouTube channel (WestMerciaPCC), it covered aspects of retail crime, including shoplifting, assault on shop workers and feelings of safety in town centres.
Reports of retail crime have risen significant nationally and with a 44% increase in shoplifting recorded in West Mercia since April 23, the PCC asked the public to send in questions throughout January.
Using concerns and experiences submitted to shape the session, the PCC heard from the T/CC on the force’s proactive work to drive down retail crime through initiatives like Operation Lagoon.
The Op will make a real difference to the experience of businesses with the police coming out within the hour if an offender is held in custody by a store detective. At present, Op Lagoon is being piloted in Shropshire before being rolled out across West Mercia.
However, the PCC challenged the T/CC that business owners and retailers often face service failures when contacting West Mercia Police following a shoplifting offence.
The T/CC acknowledged that the service given to victims has not always been to the standard he expects. To address this, a direct focus is being put on the victim’s experience after they have reported retail crime to the police. One way this is being achieved is through improvements to technology, enabling victims to submit evidence, such as CCTV, more efficiently.
To conclude the meeting, discussion focused the PCC’s proposed investment into town centre policing teams through his 2024/25 budget to boost visibility in crime hotspots and drive down retail crime.
PCC John Campion said: “I am committed to ensuring West Mercia Police is tackling your policing priorities.
“Throughout January, I have seen and heard from local businesses, retail workers and the public about the damage retail crime is causing in their communities.
“I am clear that this cannot continue so I welcome West Mercia Police’s proactive work to take prolific offenders of our streets and introduce long-lasting measures to prevent crime from happening in the first place.
“While the service businesses have received from the force has not always met expectations, I will continue to support and challenge the Chief Constable on progress to put victims and survivors first.”