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Cambridgeshire police face dilemma over shoplifting offences

By Adrian Curtis

Cambridgeshire police chief constable Nick Dean
Cambridgeshire police chief constable Nick Dean

Force admits shoplifting crime is not always investigated

Police have admitted they do not attend shoplifting incidents unless an offender is named or detained.

If CCTV is their only line of inquiry, then they will urge the shop to supply them copies via a new reporting process for businesses which, they claim, allows them to use resources faster and more efficiently.

The admission comes just a week after a number of Mill Road traders voiced their concern at the Cambridgeshire force’s apparent lack of resources to deal with crime in the area and how they felt ‘abandoned’ as a result.

Piero D’Angelico, ambassador for the Mill Road Traders’ Association, said: “Our members tell me they often call the police out to shoplifting, drug dealing or aggressive begging but they never come out to help. I think the police just don’t have resources to do it.

“I’m just telling people you will have to learn how to defend yourselves and your business because if you call the police they won’t come.”

And in a statement to the Cambridge Independent, the force outlined its reasons for not attending some specific crimes, like shoplifting incidents, which rose seven per cent across the region in the last year.

A spokesperson said: “Specifically on shoplifting, where a shoplifter has been named or detained, an officer will attend in person to investigate. Where the shoplifter is not known, not detained and the only evidence is CCTV footage, we have a new reporting process for businesses which allows retailers to send CCTV footage directly to us. “This is a far faster and more efficient way of allowing us to circulate the evidence to front line officers for identification opportunities and allows us to prioritise those investigations which stand the best opportunity for successful outcomes while filtering out those for which no reasonable lines of investigation exist.

“Local policing teams target repeat offenders and shops are provided with crime prevention advice and encouraged to install CCTV.”

The new chief constable of the Cambridgeshire, Nick Dean, who replaced Alec Wood last month, says the force is trying hard to cope with differing and new demands on this frontline officers. But he admits they are still embedding a new policing model and ‘can’t be everywhere’, although he insists his focus remains on providing the best service to the people of the region.

Mr Dean said: “While we can’t be everywhere I want to ensure that where there are good investigative opportunities we are doing everything possible to investigate crime. Focusing on those who are most at risk of harm and our most dangerous criminals. Prioritising crimes of domestic abuse, child protection, modern day slavery and burglary.

“This continues to be a challenging time for policing as we deal with a new kind of demand and the pressures it puts on the frontline.

“Our traditional demand has changed significantly and we are now facing new threats and issues, supporting our partners who face similar problems.

“However, our focus remains providing the people of Cambridgeshire with the best service we can. Achieving this by making the most effective use of our resources and working closely with our partners.

“We are still at the early stages of embedding a new policing model to support us to be more sustainable and I want us to continue to develop this work. Strengthening our ability to best support the public and enable officers and staff to operate in an efficient working environment.

“This is not an easy task but during my short time in Cambridgeshire I have been extremely impressed with the force’s dedication, commitment and hard work.”


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