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Nottinghamshire Police crack down on violence and abuse against shop workers as part of ShopKind campaign

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Police are backing a national campaign to protect shop workers from violence and abuse.

The ShopKind campaign, led by the Home Office, unites the retail sector and encourages positive behaviour in shops as well as acknowledging the important role shop workers play in our communities.

Nottinghamshire Police's support for the campaign follows a series of successful crack downs, which saw offences plummet and a number of prolific offenders locked up across the county.

Police are cracking down on shoplifting. Stock picture
Police are cracking down on shoplifting. Stock picture

When police officers attend reports of shoplifting, they consider the steps they can take to better support the staff affected, including patrols and regular engagement with shop staff.

Retail theft incidents often include acts or threats of violence towards shop workers and officers and, according to government figures, around 400 shop workers are abused everyday across the UK, with reports nationally that some have been threatened with weapons like knives and hammers.

Pc Joanna Baxter, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “Retail crime can often be seen as a victimless crime. However, when shop staff suffer threats by these offenders they can be left living in fear both inside and outside of the workplace.

Nottinghamshire Police are supporting the Shop Kind campaign. (53224582)
Nottinghamshire Police are supporting the Shop Kind campaign. (53224582)

“We need to understand that and think carefully about what additional steps we can put in place to protect that person.

“That could include investigating someone for more serious offences such as affray and also considering other civil measures such as community behaviour orders.

“Incidents can very often go hand in hand with addiction and mental health issues. So, we pro-actively look to assist with referring those who require support for this to the relevant organisations and ensure they get the help they need. By tackling any potential underlying factors, our aim is to prevent any further incidents.

“We’re encouraging local businesses and shop staff to get involved in this campaign and make use of the resources on the Home Office website.”

Local teams also work with university students studying policing and investigations to get them out into the community as police volunteers to engage with the shops.

Operation Reacher officers will also be out conducting shoplifting patrols in Nottingham city centre throughout the week.

Earlier this year, officers saw success in tackling cases of shoplifting after businesses in Clifton raised concerns following the opening of big-name stores, including Co-Op and Boots.

By working closely with the shops, evidence against a number of prolific shoplifters was gathered and they all received significant prison sentences as a result.

Among these was Aaron Kelly, who was considered as one of the area’s most prolific shoplifters.

The 31-year-old, of no fixed address, was jailed for 26 weeks following his conviction of 41 crimes which included stealing gift sets, food and makeup.

Sasha Irwin, of Porter Close, Clifton, was also jailed after admitting a string of shoplifting offences and received a six-week jail sentence.

Following the crack down, shoplifting fell by 34% over a three-month period compared to the same period the previous year.

Victoria Crorken, group head of risk for The Co-op, said: “As retailers, our priority is to protect our store colleagues. It isn’t part of their job to be physically assaulted or verbally abused while serving their local communities.

“We want our shop workers to be treated with the respect they deserve and have worked closely with Nottinghamshire Police to identify and prosecute those offenders who have caused the most harm.”

Recent cases elsewhere in Nottinghamshire include Joseph Haxby, 35, of Cinderhill Walk, Nottingham, who was jailed for four months after stealing from Boots inside the Victoria Centre and then threatening staff who challenged him.

Cory Beckford Smith, 39, of Peveril Street, Nottingham, was also jailed for two years and three months in August for multiple shop thefts and court breaches.

Iona Blake, security and incident manager at Boots, said: “At Boots, we have been very active in working with others in the retail industry as well as local authorities and police forces to tackle violence and abuse towards retail workers.

“Locally, we work very closely with Nottinghamshire Police to tackle these issues and bring perpetrators to justice. It is fantastic to see Nottinghamshire officers getting involved in this campaign alongside retailers to raise awareness of this issue.

“Our team members in stores have a right to work in a safe and respectful environment.”

To find out more about the campaign, visit the ShopKind webpage here.

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