Crime commissioner vows to tackle violence against Northamptonshire shop workers

Funding gives businesses new ally in war on theft and threats staff

Thursday, 7th October 2021, 10:31 am
Updated Thursday, 7th October 2021, 10:34 am

Northamptonshire businesses have a new ally in the war on shoplifting and violence against staff.

Retired detective Paul Franks has been appointed to a new role as retail crime investigator, helping retailers and his former Northamptonshire Police colleagues bring more thieves to justice.

County-wide there were 2,720 shoplifting offences recorded in the 12 months leading up to July 2021 despite many stores being closed for months during Covid lockdowns.

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Paul Franks will help Northamptonshire businesses bring more shoplifters to justice

Yet the detection rate is just 12.8 percent.

The new post is part of a year-long pilot scheme in North Northamptonshire funded by Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold in response to concerns from the business community.

Mr Franks will work within the Northamptonshire Business Crime Partnership, a non-profit organisation with more than 500 members ranging from national retailers to independent traders.

Partnership chair, Paul Whitworth, said: “We are aware from a recent survey of a number of our members that they do at times have concerns both about how to best gather evidence where their businesses are subject to persistent offending or where their staff are threatened by offenders.

"At times they felt the police response was lacking.

“We look forward to this partnership approach being successful in making our members feel safer and more secure.”

Mr Franks will work closely with local retailers to help gather better evidence such as statements and CCTV footage that can then be sent onto the force.

The scheme, which started on Monday (October 4), gives retailers additional specialist assistance when they have been targeted and will focus on persistent and violent shoplifters who cause harm to retailers, their staff, and their communities.

Mr Mold, who was re-elected as commissioner with a huge majority in May's delayed election, said: "I am particularly concerned about the increase in violence or threats that staff employed in this sector have been suffering nationally, and this is wholly unacceptable.

“I’m absolutely committed to ensuring we provide a valued service to all victims of retail crime.

"We hope this 12-month pilot will provide further reassurance to businesses that we will do everything in our power to firstly deter criminals, but also to investigate and bring swift justice to those shoplifters who do target our local businesses."

Northamptonshire Police has recently reviewed the service given to retailers reporting shoplifting and the pilot scheme will support the new direction the force is taking.

A review at the end of the 12-month trial will determine if detection rates have improved as a result of the pilot and the more focused approach the IIT is taking.

Paul Franks added: “I am looking forward to undertaking this important role, acting as a key link between the partnership and Police. I hope to be able to support retailers at a difficult time in bringing these offenders to justice.”