Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Barber, has today (17/10) pledged to implement an intelligence sharing platform to help tackle shoplifting and retail crime in the Thames Valley.
For several months, Matthew has been meeting with retailers and business groups across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Milton Keynes to discuss how Thames Valley Police can better tackle retail crime.
Today he has teamed up with HWBIDCo (High Wycombe Business Improvement District) to encourage local retailers to join an online information-sharing and reporting platform which helps to improve intelligence on shoplifting and other retail crime in the town.
Together with members of HWBIDCo and Thames Valley Police Neighbourhood Officers, Matthew talked to several retailers about Disc, an online app which allows retailers to report and access information about crime such as shoplifting and anti-social behaviour (ASB) in their area.
Matthew said: “Retail crime is not a victimless crime. It has a profound impact on staff, customers and the wider economy. Throughout the summer, I have met with a number of retailers including John Lewis, Aldi, Primark and Morrisons, as well as the Association of Convenience Stores, to better understand the scale of the retail crime problem in the Thames Valley.
“I am currently working with Thames Valley Police on a Retail Crime Strategy which will deliver a more visible, targeted and robust response to retail crime. While charges for shoplifting in the Thames Valley have increased by 66 per cent so far this year compared to 2022, we know there is more we can do.
“Initiatives like the one I have been out promoting in Wycombe today are making a real difference to the security and confidence of local businesses. Retail crime is significantly underreported. We need to make reporting easier and more efficient and that is why I will be rolling out a system for retail intelligence sharing across the Thames Valley.
Taken together with a strong police response, improved reporting and intelligence will help us combat retail crime and make stores and high streets across the Thames Valley safer.”
Disc, which can be accessed as an app or in desktop form, also includes details of known offenders and has an alert system where retailers can send and receive email alerts about any immediate threats. Critically, the system also makes reporting to the police faster and more efficient – users can submit a crime report directly through the platform, removing the need to call 101.
If used effectively, the information submitted to the platform can support the police with increased intelligence, helping them target hotspot areas and known offenders as well as identifying possible local trends.
HWBIDCo funds the Disc platform in High Wycombe town centre, making it available as a free resource to all businesses and retailers within the HWBIDCo member area.
Melanie Williams, Chief Executive for HWBIDCo, commented: “We are committed to tackling retail crime and ASB in High Wycombe, and are working strategically with both Thames Valley Police and town centre businesses to reverse the statistics. The Disc platform is an invaluable resource for information-sharing and assists in developing a coordinated approach to help tackle the problems. We urge businesses affected by any incidence of retail crime or ASB to report them on the Disc platform so the intelligence can be shared, analysed and in time, the issues eliminated.”