One of the more frustrating aspects of dealing with retail crime is the feeling that you’re alone and there’s no one there to listen to your concerns. If you’ve been the victim of a crime, or feel under threat, it’s important to be able to speak to the right person about your worries. However, it can be difficult to find out exactly who is responsible for tackling crime in your area.
With the new concept of Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), the government hopes to make one person in each area accountable for the police force. Responsibilities for the role include appointing the Chief Constable, setting the police and crime objectives for their area, managing the force budget and, most importantly, securing an efficient and effective police force for their area. This will be no mean feat, with some constituencies having an electorate of up to 2.5 million people and up to 17 local authorities.
The elections are taking place on November 15, with the winning candidates expected to take office a week later. However, it’s vital that you don’t wait until then to get in touch with them. Now is the time to arrange a meeting with the candidates and ask them what they are going to do about retail crime in your area.
Chief executive of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners Mark Castle believes the candidates should be more than happy to forge relationships with retailers as you can play a key role in reducing crime in communities. “Working with retailers can help identify offenders in an area and help to cut crimes affecting a community,” he says. “Retailers will be a crucial link in any PCC’s efforts to cut crime and should be targeted by candidates as someone to engage with,” he adds.
Ian Johnston, independent candidate for Gwent, South Wales, says that store owners need to be proactive when it comes to engaging with potential PCCs. “Now is the time to knock on the PCC candidates’ doors,” he says. “From the end of October, the candidates will be campaigning so I would suggest that anyone looking to get a meeting with them do it now as they will be extremely busy in the run-up to the election, and afterwards if they win.”
One of the higher profile candidates standing for election is Lord Prescott. Representing the Labour Party in Humberside, he agrees that store owners need to be proactive to make the most of the relationship. “Get to them before they’re elected,” he says. “Retailers need to come to me and the other candidates and hold us accountable for crime in their area.”
Association of Convenience Stores public affairs director Shane Brennan believes the forthcoming elections are a great opportunity for retailers to put business crime on the agenda with those in power. “All retailers should invest the time to understand who their candidates are, engage with them setting out their local concerns, and then make a decision about how they can best represent your interests,” he says.
“Key issues for Crime Commissioners include police response to crime committed in stores, tackling anti-social behaviour in the community and commitment to effective partnership working. These issues will only be on the agenda for Commissioners if retailers put them there.” •
What you can do to get more involved with your PCC:
● Find out who the Police & Crime Commissioner candidates are for your area. This can be found at www.apccs.police.uk
● Arrange a meeting with all of them, not just the candidate for your favoured political party, as soon as possible
● Find out what their agenda for dealing with business crime in your area is
● Discuss what you and other retailers in your area can do to help them tackle business crime
● Encourage other retailers to do the same, and vote for the candidate that you feel is best positioned to reduce retail crime