An event providing clarity on the legal ambiguities of theft, burglary and robbery in retail premises, was the order of the day at a recent Retail Crimewatch event in the Belfast city centre.
Hosted by Belfast City Centre Management in partnership with the Police Service for Northern Ireland and the Public Prosecution Service, the event was attended by over forty businesses in Belfast – from independents to multi-national stores.
Roger Davison, Assistant Director, Public Prosecution Service, delivered an informed account on how the criminal justice system and the Public Prosecution process operate. He gave an insight into the law regarding crimes affecting retailers and how they are dealt with within the system. He also explained the powers of arrest by citizens. Speaking at the event, Roger commented, “We are delighted to have been able to support this initiative by working with Belfast City Centre Management to tighten the terms of the initiative’s Exclusion Order process which is leading to prolific offenders of retail crime being prosecuted for burglary, and not just theft.”
Inspector David Gibson, PSNI Central Neighbourhood Team Belfast, reinforced the PSNI’s commitment to supporting retailers in tackling this crime. He also highlighted the challenges facing the service including reduced funding and resources and appealed to the business community to continue to make sure crime was reported.
Policing devotes resources to where there is the most need and helps the PSNI understand patterns of criminal activity. Inspector Gibson updated the Retail Crimewatch members on recent advancements to support the initiative, including setting up a new flagging system for all PSNI officers attending a retail crime offence which will enable the crime to be identified as an aggravating factor when being processed to the Public Prosecution Service. Inspector Gibson commented, “We continue to work with Belfast City Centre Management and the Public Prosecution Service to pursue stronger sentencing against prolific offenders committing retail crime and fully support the Retail Crimewatch Initiative.”
Sarah-Anne Attwood, Belfast City Centre Management, oversees the Retail Crimewatch initiative and highlighted the success of a multi-agency approach in tackling reduce retail crime.
Due to the success of the initiative and a collaborative proactive campaign to have more retail crime reported to the PSNI, the initiative has seen a marked increase in the number of retailers completing and processing Exclusion Orders.
Sarah-Anne also informed retailers that Belfast City Centre Management is planning to develop the initiative by using new technology which will make the initiative more interactive and proficient. Sarah-Anne said, “Our partnership approach has resulted in more prolific offenders being identified by the PSNI and cases being progressed to the Public Prosecution Service. We are committed to supporting retailers in tackling retail crime through the development of this award winning initiative.”
For further information on Retail Crimewatch visit www.belfastcentre.com or call 028 9024 2111.