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News - 16 July 2005

Brighton shoplifting massively reduced by removing key protagonists

A pioneering project set up to tackle shoplifting in Brighton & Hove cut losses and reduced stress for many businesses. The project has focused on removing the most prolific offenders and has saved businesses £600,000 a year as a result.

Many shoplifting offences are believed to be carried out by people with drug or alcohol problems trying to raise cash quickly to fund their addiction.

As a result, Brighton & Hove Drug & Alcohol Action team (DAAT) and the Business Crime Reduction Partnership set up a Shoplifting Project to cut crime by the city’s most prolific shoplifters.

The trailblazing scheme, which is one of only two in the country, aims to get to the underlying root of the problem and help shoplifters to break their criminal habit and get treatment for their addiction.

The project has concentrated on the city 20 most persistent shoplifters, who between them have a total of 920 convictions.

Since the project was set up in March last year:

· There has been a 45% reduction in reported thefts by these shoplifters

· The estimated saving to businesses is £600,000 a year

· The impact has been felt on the high street, with one store reporting stock loss down by a third in the past year and, importantly, a much less stressful working environment for shop staff

Councillor Ken Bodfish, leader of the city council and chair of the

Community Safety Forum, said, “A lot of shoplifters are substance misusers who steal almost on a daily basis to fund their addiction and police see the same faces again and again.

“This project is making a very real impact by getting to the deeper rooted problem and dealing with the underlying reasons why these people are shoplifting. The project is helping them to get treatment to come off drugs, and break their shoplifting habit as a result.

“It is a good example of partnership working by different organisations in the city which is making a long term difference.”

Terry Davies is Business Crime Reduction Manager at the Business Crime

Reduction Partnership, an action group of the Brighton City Centre Business

Forum. He said, "The scheme is a real success and other areas are now looking to set up similar projects. It is successfully breaking the 'revolving door' pattern of people shoplifting, being arrested, going to court, going to prison, and coming straight back out and shoplifting again."

Commenting on the impact of prolific shoplifters, one shopworker said,“They would work as a team and you were powerless against them. We would spend out whole day looking out for them. It was horrible and very demoralising. This last year has been very different for us, not having them around is much less stressful for the staff.”

The project was started after the Drug & Alcohol Action Team and Business Crime Reduction Partnership made a bid to the Home Office for funding. A number of different council departments, Brighton & Hove police, and other agencies across the city are involved in the project.

To download a copy of the report on the project click on the Crime icon on the left hand side of this page

Read related items on:
Anti-social behaviour
Business Crime Reduction Partnership
Brighton & Hove Business Forum
Brighton & Hove City Council
Bodfish, Ken

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