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Conference: Partnering with Police to Reduce Business Crime, London and SE

Date: 23 Oct 2013

Venue: The Hippodrome, London

Met commits itself to ambitious business crime partnership strategy

Speaking at the Partnering with Police conference in central London at the end of October Deputy Commissioner Craig MacKey confirmed the Metropolitan Police’s commitment to developing more business crime reduction partnerships throughout London. As part of the programme the Met has already created a central resource for existing and new partnerships in the capital, with more assistance to follow…

MacKey emphasised that the Met’s focus on business crime reduction partnerships was for the long term: “This is an important part of the policing strategy for London and we are in this for the long-term” he told 160 delegates assembled at the London Hippodrome.

The Partnering with Police conference was the first of Partnerships Against Crime’s 2013/4 series of regional conferences on the theme. Delegates heard not only from Craig MacKey but also from Inspector Roy Smith, head of the Met’s Business Crime Team, from Partnership administrators, a data sharing expert and from leading business figures committed to Partnership-working.

One of these was Philip Jones head of security at Westfield Shopping towns who is responsible for four of Europe’s largest shopping centres in London’s Whites City and Stratford, Derby and in the centre of Birmingham. He emphasised the importance of partnership-working in the challenging and fast-changing world of retail security:

“One of the things I have noticed since coming into the industry from the banking and financial sector is the lack of coordination in retail security. We’re shockingly bad at it” he said. “And one of the first things that we need to do is to demonstrate that what we’re doing is worth the money. That isn’t always as clear as it might be.

“And it’s not just the commercial security sector that needs to justify itself – the use of police officers themselves is massively expensive and we, like our retailer colleagues, must have evidence of value for money from them. I have to say that the police have too often failed to provide that evidence.”

Westfield runs exclusion schemes in all their shopping centres and collect intelligence on local and travelling retail thieves and fraudsters. Jones believe this information can be used to improve the shopping experience not only in Westfield sites but in the wider community too.

“We’re keen to expand our partnerships beyond the perimeter of our own centres to the areas beyond. For example in White City we share information with neighbours such as the BBC, the NHS hospital, the W12 shopping centre nearby and with Imperial College. Reducing crime in one location shouldn’t simply be a matter of moving it next door. We have a responsibility to the wider community” said Jones.

Jones also outlined a project which will bring all the shopping centres within the M25 together into one secure information-sharing network. “I have been shocked by the low level of sharing of best practice in retail, and of sharing intelligence too. So we are taking a leading role as a company to create online tools to enable that happen”.

Also speaking at the conference was Claire Ward, head of information sharing at the Metropolitan Police. In a world where information has never been so easy to share and distribute, Claire emphasised the importance of compliance with the Data Protection Act. But she also accused too many public agencies of being ‘scared’ by the DPA of doing it at all.

“Really, it’s simple. All you need to ask yourself is, is the information sharing that I am being asked to do legal, safe and effective?” she told delegates. With reference to Sections 29 and 35 of the Data Protection Act 1998, she explained how the act allowed sharing and distribution of sensitive personal data if it is necessary for the detection and prevention of crime or required for potential legal proceedings.

Other presentations during the day – which was chaired by Tony Mernagh of Brighton & Hove BCRP – were given by Stuart Turner of Heaven nightclub in London’s Soho, Bill Moss, town centre manager at Maidstone, Debbie Dobson from Hounslow Against Business Crime, Lisa Perreta of Brighton & Hove BCRP and Andy Sharman from Somerset West Against Business Crime.

“This was our biggest conference yet” says Pam Millhouse, administrator of Partnerships Against Crime, “and certainly seems to have been well timed with the Met coming out so strongly in favour of business crime reduction partnerships and really putting their money where their mouth is.

“We are here to encourage this kind of commitment to crime reduction partnerships and the Met is a great place to start. Now we go on to Leeds in March with the Northern ‘edition’ of the conference. I believe we will be hearing there about new initiatives supported by ACPO and perhaps some new support for the further development of business crime reduction partnerships outside London and the south. There is a great deal of back-stage activity at the highest levels right now, and I hope our Leeds conference will see some of these initiative unveiled.”

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