Retailers Go Digital To Tackle Shop Lifters

A REVOLUTIONARY, hi-tech system to help retailers report shop-lifting has been launched in Liverpool city centre. Liverpool BID Company and Merseyside Police have joined forces to help businesses report incidents on-line via Facewatch, an instant crime reporting tool. Facewatch creates a ‘digital evidence package’ containing statements and accompanying CCTV imagery, which is then sent to Merseyside Police revolutionising the time taken to report a crime in the city centre. The on-line dashboard allows businesses to communicate with each other, share watch lists with other businesses; and analyse their own crime statistics. The first phase of the Facewatch scheme involves 40 retailers in the city centre who are being trained to use the new platform. The scheme has been introduced following a safety review by the Liverpool BID Company which has also paid for two new police officers to patrol the city centre, introduced a three strong team of on-street ambassadors and provided more than 100 businesses with a new radio system to share intelligence. Bill Addy, Chief Executive of Liverpool BID Company, said: “Liverpool city centre has a great record for thwarting criminal activity but there is always room for improvement and Facewatch will play a crucial role in this. This web-based system will allow us to gain a more complete picture of how crime and anti-social behaviour affects our businesses, helping us to develop our support for them in the future.” Reports submitted via Facewatch are sent to a police contact centre and passed to investigators; officers can then access the details from their desktop while automatic update emails are sent to the business. Officers use the system predominantly to identify retail crime suspects like shoplifters, pick pockets, and purse dippers but it’s also been used in other UK cities to crack other cases and find missing people. Chief Inspector Greg Lambert of Merseyside Police said: “Embracing new technology is crucial as we adapt to the challenges of modern day policing. This system saves time and money and enables us to offer a more efficient service to businesses – and importantly frees officers up to patrol the streets and fight crime.’’ Richard Thompson, CEO of Facewatch, added: “We are delighted that the Liverpool BID has decided to use Facewatch to support their initiative with Merseyside Police to reduce retail crime in the city centre. There have been a number of similar collaborative approaches in other cities where a close partnership facilitated by Facewatch between the BID, the retailers and the local police has significantly reduced crime and anti-social behaviour. ‘’Facewatch can enable enhanced partnership working by facilitating the real time transfer of crime related intelligence thereby empowering the retailers and significantly reducing the time it takes for crimes to be reported to the police which can then respond more effectively and efficiently.”