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Accolade for Staffordshire

The BCRP (Business Crime Reduction Partnership) in Staffordshire has gained accreditation from Police Crime Prevention Initiatives (PCPI), the national police body.

The official ceremony for Partnerships Against Business Crime in Staffordshire (PABCIS) was in Stoke on Tuesday, August 6.

The BCRP accreditation process is based on a set of standards owned by the National Business Crime Centre (NBCC) and include good management practices and procedures such as membership agreements, data security and compliance with the law. It includes having robust information for members and partner organisations that is up to date as well as making it accessible 24/7. For some BCRPs, the standards will include the use of CCTV and radio links with members.

PABCIS, for example, helps police check CCTV footage especially when police resources need support or when officers are unable to identify suspects. In the six months prior to March 2018 when PABCIS moved into the resolution centre at Hanley Police Station in the Potteries, it identified 22 suspects responsible for multiple offences from CCTV footage and local knowledge. In the following six months, a total of 64 offenders were identified. Julie Davies, pictured centre, who has overall responsibility for PABCIS, said: “Nine times out of ten we will know who they are.”

Pictured left is Staffordshire’s Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Arnold and right, Staffordshire Police Chief Supt Jeff Moore.

How PABCIS helps police:

– searching systems for member businesses which have reported incidents to police and lower level incidents that members wouldn’t necessarily report. “We’re actually creating a truer picture of what’s really happening within the business community than police may be aware of,” said Julie.

– spotting trends of offending, such as using fake IDs or stealing particular products. “We would run campaigns to combat these or support crime prevention at certain hotspot locations.”

– identifying offender crime patterns, such as when they operate in different locations or repeatedly breach their exclusion orders. “So it’s raising the profile of offenders for further action.”

– running consistent exclusion policies for offenders who now face local, regional and county wide exclusions. “This helps ensure exclusion orders match their behaviour,” added Julie.

PABCIS dates from 1988 when Stoke launched the first business crime prevention initiative in the UK and with the UK’s first retail radio link. Julie was in charge from its start. Over the years, more business groups set up around the county to cover their local daytime and night-time economies. Each was managed separately and had their own identity, funding, governance, processes, policies and strategies. However, by 2012 police were looking for a more strategic and consistent way of working with one manager that could oversee the 26 retail and pubwatch schemes in the county. Julie was tasked to deliver this. As in other parts of the UK, with many individuals over the years working differently, Julie recalled it was ‘trying to turn the Titanic’. It was managed in three phases:

Phase 1: focused on persuading the management of local groups about the need to change and adapt to different business and policing circumstances. It also involved creating consistent policies, which varied widely. For example, the same town centre had a two-year exclusion from all shops for someone stealing chewing gum while an incident causing a serious injury in a pub may have only resulted in a 12-month ban. “It took two years to implement the policies so they were consistent and balanced across the county,” said Julie.

Phase 2: led to the appointment of three regional managers in Mid Staffordshire (Stafford and Cannock), North Staffordshire (Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle, Leek and Cheadle) and Trent Valley (Burton-on-Trent, Uttoxeter and Tamworth) to manage their own retail and pubwatch groups and deliver intelligence and information briefings every month – and weekly in city centres. This is so members learn about active offenders and share local concerns. These briefings are attended by members of the Neighbourhood Policing Teams.

Phase 3: set about creating one organisation – PABCIS – with its consistent practices and policies. Formed in 2012, business members joined PABCIS, not their local group, but continued to share the intelligence and information available to that local group. Also, income was centralised and shared across all groups to ensure consistent levels of service county-wide.

Businesses from each of the groups are invited to have a representative on the PABCIS Board of Management, which manages day-to-day operations. PABCIS also has three directors from member companies to manage the company and employment responsibilities. Board members are often high-level managers and decision-makers from within their own companies.

Julie’s role has been part funded by a four-year grant from the Staffordshire Police, Fire and Rescue and Crime Commissioner’s Business and Crime Strategy and is on track to be self-financing.

PABCIS works with the Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) in Hanley city centre, Lichfield and Newcastle-under-Lyme. In the last few months, PABCIS has set up a Business Crime Support Group, which meets twice a year. It is chaired jointly by Julie and Chief Inspector Gemma Ward to inform Neighbourhood Policing Team officers about best practice learning and how joint working can reduce crime in local communities.

Speaking at Hanley’s resolution centre, a desktop investigation unit where officers investigate crimes that don’t require an immediate response, Julie said: “Staffordshire Police has placed a massive trust in us by letting us work alongside police officers. We have become an integral part of the county’s business crime strategies.

“It’s been a battle but I think we have got there and it’s working because we have been prepared to change, and not assume that we’re always right. If things need to be adapted or different processes adopted, then we’re willing to do that so long as it’s for the right reasons and it’s going to be effective. We have also had considerable engagement and support from the representatives on the Management Board and BIDs across Staffordshire.”

Julie is continuing to support partnership working outside Staffordshire to develop a process for sharing regional and national intelligence to help tackle country-wide issues, such as offenders moving to different areas to commit crime, rising levels of retail violence and the need to promote greater crime prevention.

One of Julie’s team, Paul Greenhough, who manages the North Staffordshire area, has received a police commendation for his work identifying offenders and Julie gained an OBE for her services to the community.

Chief Supt Jeff Moore, of Staffordshire Police, said: “PABCIS is an excellent example of organisations working together to reduce crime. PABCIS brings businesses together to share information, understand crime trends and respond to them. This is not only good for businesses but also makes our towns safer for those who visit, live and work. The award is well deserved and I am delighted that the partnership has been recognised for the great work it does.”

Sue Arnold, Deputy Police, Fire and Rescue and Crime Commissioner, who manages the business crime portfolio on behalf of the Commissioner, said: “Business crime is a very real threat – these are far from victimless crimes and can devastate companies of any size, in any industry. I am delighted that PABCIS has achieved this accreditation, which is testament to the partnership’s consistent approach to tackling business crime in Staffordshire.”

Guy Collyer, of PCPI, said: “Achieving this accreditation is another major step forward for PABCIS. They are leading the way in this area and should be truly proud of what they have achieved.”

The National Association of Business Crime Partnerships (NABCP) was the assessing authority for Staffordshire’s accreditation. David Wilson, Executive Board Member of NABCP, said: “PABCIS is an outstanding partnership leading the way on innovation and best practice nationally. The working relationship they have developed with the police and the confidence they have in PABCIS is exemplary.”


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