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New Northampton Retail Crime Team continues fight against shoplifting and business crime

In the ongoing effort to prevent and address retail crime, Northamptonshire Police is introducing a dedicated Retail Crime Team, building on the success of collaborative approaches.

Comprising police officers and civilian evidence gatherers, the team commenced operations this week (March 25). It carries forward the work initiated by Operation Elegance, launched by the Force in May last year in partnership with the Northamptonshire Business Crime Partnership (NBCP). The primary objectives remain providing enhanced support to victims of retail crime and enhancing the apprehension of offenders.

Operation Elegance originated as a pilot initiative between the NBCP and the Office of the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner. Initially, it funded a retail crime evidence gatherer to engage with stores in the northern part of the county. The aim was to secure robust evidence, including CCTV footage and witness statements, for swift submission to the Force, facilitating prompt charges upon offender apprehension.

Expanding county-wide in May last year, Operation Elegance welcomed another OPFCC-funded NBCP retail crime evidence gatherer. This addition worked alongside three police officers and a sergeant.

In its inaugural six months, Operation Elegance delivered a notable 56 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of individuals charged, cautioned, or subject to community resolutions for retail offences. Additionally, it fostered stronger ties with the business community and retailers.

Recognized as innovative practice by inspectors from His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), the project's ongoing success has led to the establishment of the Retail Crime Team as a permanent fixture within Northamptonshire Police.

Sergeant Sharan Wildman commented: “The Retail Crime Team owes its existence to the outstanding efforts of those involved in Operation Elegance, which has yielded impressive results in bringing habitual shoplifters to justice. I eagerly anticipate continuing our achievements alongside our partners at the Northamptonshire Business Crime Partnership, ensuring our county remains unwelcoming to potential offenders. Moreover, we are committed to supporting our diverse businesses, stores, and their personnel, fostering an environment where they feel secure and assured at work.”

Alison Farr, NBCP crime manager, remarked: “The NBCP welcomes the success of Operation Elegance and Northamptonshire Police’s proactive response in launching a dedicated Retail Crime Team. This team will maintain close collaboration with our innovative retail crime evidence gatherers. We are excited about this ongoing partnership, which bodes well for all retailers across Northamptonshire. We anticipate further progress, with more offenders prosecuted or diverted from criminal activity, thus enhancing Northamptonshire's reputation as a safer place to shop and work.”

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