Retailers team up to fight back against shoplifters in Wakefield

A new network of radios aims to crack down on thieves operating in Wakefield.

The Shopwatch initiative sees retailers given radios linking them with each other and the police, allowing them to share information quickly when thieves are seen committing crimes in the city.

Inspector Helen Brear.

Inspector Helen Brear.

It also allows police to pass information to shop security staff about potential suspects and links them all to Wakefield Council's CCTV network.

Retailers who have signed up to the scheme have also agreed to ban anyone caught shoplifting from their store for 12 months.

Any breach of these bans is then added to the crime the offender is charged with, potentially resulting in a more severe sentence for them at court.

The Shopwatch scheme is the latest in a range of measures aimed at cracking down on crime and anti-social behaviour in Wakefield city centre.

So far, the work has seen the number of shoplifting offences fall by 40 per cent in the past year.

Inspector Helen Brear, of Wakefield City And North West Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We have been speaking with retailers since the early part of 2018 to see what we could do to better support them, and are really pleased to now be implementing this Shopwatch scheme.

“Shopwatch schemes can have a real effect in helping stores protect themselves against thieves and in providing intelligence to us about shoplifters operating.

“Retailer’s interest in the relaunched scheme has been very positive so far, and that has allowed us to bring the new watch into being just ahead of the busy Christmas shopping season.

“Initiatives such as the new 12 month banning procedure for suspects from stores will also helpfully provide a welcome extra deterrent factor.

“I would encourage any Wakefield businesses who are not part of the new Shopwatch to contact the Wakefield City Centre NPT on wakefield.central@westyorkshire.pnn.police.uk."