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PFCC to continue funding retail crime investigator after successful pilot

The work of retired Northamptonshire Police detective Paul Franks has led to an increase in the number of positive outcomes for shoplifting in the north of the county.

A specialist retail crime investigator role initially funded for year by Northamptonshire's PFCC will now be made permanent after the pilot scheme led to more detections and sanctions.

Retired detective Paul Franks will continue working with retailers in north Northamptonshire who fall victim to shoplifting or other retail crime, while PFCC Stephen Mold hopes to extend the scheme county-wide.

The pilot, which the PFCC launched in partnership with the Northamptonshire Business Crime Partnership, aims to increase the number of such crimes that are resolved in the north of the county.

At the end of the 12-month trial, the number of positive outcomes for shoplifting had risen from 47 in 2020/21 to 174 in 2021/2022. Criminal charges also increased by 10%.

To compare, the number of positive outcomes in west Northamptonshire also increased during the same period, but by a much smaller number (54 to 69).

In his capacity as specialist investigator, Mr Franks helped businesses collect evidence such as statements and CCTV footage to be sent on to Northamptonshire Police.

Specialist retail crime investigator Paul Franks

PFCC Mold believes this role represents a "valuable link between police investigation teams and retailers".

He said: "I am pleased that we have been able to increase the confidence of businesses and their staff and have supported the police to resolve these crimes by helping to gather the best evidence. 

"That has helped prevent crime by closing the revolving door where offenders are arrested but are released to continue offending because of lack of evidence."

Chief Inspector Scott Little, from Response and Local Policing (North), said this role has made retail workers feel safer and more confident in reporting incidents.

He said: “People often perceive shoplifting to be a victimless crime however those who own or work in retail outlets deserve to be able to come to work without fear."

These risks are reflected in the fact that, under section 156 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022, assaults committed against workers 'providing a public service or performing a public duty' are now treated as aggravated for the purposes of sentencing.

And those numbers have risen in recent years. Last June, the British Retail Consortium said that - in the year to March 2020 compared to March 2021 - assaults on staff increased from 455 to 1,301 per day.

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