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This Blog will be about two topics as once again, I’ve been on leave. Honestly, I’m at work sometimes!
The work in the City Centre falls into three broad streams; Business, Leisure and Vulnerability. These three categories are, in themselves, quite wide.
Today I’m going to talk about the work we carry out with the Retailers in the City. We focus on theft matters, and anti-social behaviour.
Theft is a real and constant concern for the retailers in the city. Shoplifting incidents have a number of adverse effects on the businesses. Firstly, the loss of stock leads to the business not being able to profit from the sale of those items, but also leads to a time-consuming process of a member of staff from the business having to conduct stock checks to identify exactly what stock was stolen. In addition, members of staff have to spend time reporting the incident to police following the event. This is not to discount the effect that aggressive shoplifters have on the staff as well.
Whilst the Constabulary’s Response Investigations teams deal with the majority of theft matters the role that the City Centre Partnerships team, led in this matter by PC Hannah Flemington and in partnership with Cambridge Business against Crime (CAMBAC). As with a lot of the work we do, our role is to look at the longer term issues and identify strategies to overcome them by developing a wider understanding of the problems. This includes identifying and dealing with offenders who are committing a spree of offences. This means that the people who are committing the most harm to the retailers in the City Centre are identified and swiftly dealt with. In addition, when these problematic individuals are identified, the team reviews their offending and where appropriate, looks to apply to the court for a range of different orders to protect retailers from continued behaviour. The most recent of these was a male who the team identified as committing 11 shoplifting offences. Our team supported our colleagues in Response Investigations and once the male had been charged with these offences, the team undertook the application process for a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) against the male. This is no small task - it took two team members the best part of a weekend to complete. The good news was that he was sentenced to a period of time in prison and a CBO was granted by the court. This order prohibits the male from entering a number of stores across the City. If he enters any of these identified stores then he has breached his CBO, and will be dealt with appropriately for the offence.
As well as identifying and dealing with offences when they are committed, our team works with stores and when appropriate, the wider shopping centres to help reduce the number of offences that are committed. The shops across the city centre have been assessed and following discussions with them, we have agreed a regular engagement timetable.
As well as crime, the people who use and work in the City Centre are affected by anti-social behaviour (ASB). This ranges from drunken and inappropriate behaviour within the Night Time Economy to young people causing issues within the shopping centres and all different issues which fall in, or in-between these categories.
As I’ve mentioned previously, we constantly review these issues and prioritise both problematic people and locations. This means that the team can be in the right place at the right time to address these issues. We try and understand where and when these issues are happening in order to understand why these individuals and locations are, or are becoming problematic. This means that we stand a much better chance of understanding how we can stop them from happening again. It also helps us to understand who the best agency to deal with the situation is as it is not necessarily always the police. We work closely with partner agencies on a regular basis which means that when we are not the best agency to deal with an issue, we can direct this to the correct agency. In the words of a TV advert which is much older than I realised, “I Know a Man who Can”! https://youtu.be/yBKcr1lM3rQ
This means that working together we can address these issues effectively. For example, if the matter passes the criminal threshold, police will take the lead of course. However, if the matter doesn’t pass the criminal threshold, the City Council will often take the lead, and when we work together, we are able to be much more effective. For example, an individual who has been persistently causing issues around the Grafton Centre has be served with a County Court injunction which prohibits him for attending certain areas. He has breached this, and with our help, he has been returned to court for the series of breaches and we are awaiting the results of this as I type. Again these are not easy things for us or the City Council to obtain but they are very powerful tools if they are the appropriate course of action to solve an issue.
To do these things, we need people to tell us what is going on. You can call us on 101 or use the website to report a problem. In an emergency, always call 999. Our team regularly patrol the City Centre on foot and you can make them aware of any issues when you see them out and about. The more we know, the better we can address problems that have an adverse effect on the City Centre.