A new system to help retailers report shoplifting
Leicestershire Police is joining forces with Facewatch to help businesses report crimes using an online reporting tool, which allows them to upload their own CCTV footage.
The online form takes around 20 minutes to complete and creates an electronic crime report which is automatically sent to the force and passed on to investigators. All businesses from larger stores to smaller shops are being encouraged to sign-up to the online scheme.
This new tool is free and will benefit retailers by speeding up the reporting and investigation process, as officers will spend less time out collecting CCTV footage. By using Facewatch businesses can report at a time that suits them and also monitor the progress of their crime online.
The system, which has already been adopted by 13 police forces across the country, is available for businesses to sign-up today. This online option is in addition to the existing service available to retailers.
What is Facewatch?
Crime reports submitted using the Facewatch online form takes as little as 20 minutes to complete. An electronic report is automatically sent to the police and passed on to investigators who look at the crime report details.
What benefits does Facewatch bring?
The system speeds up the reporting and investigation process for both retailer and the police as less time is spent collecting CCTV footage. Embracing new technology is crucial for the police as it allows us to adapt to the challenges of modern day policing.
At its heart, Facewatch creates online communities that work together to create a safer environment for us all to work and live in. Trials in London and elsewhere in the country have shown that Facewatch acts as a strong deterrent to low-level crime. Facewatch helps businesses to make informed decisions about crime prevention measures.
By using the online services, police are able to start the investigation and identification of offenders earlier since all the relevant information is made available to them in the initial form. By uploading CCTV with the crime report it has been proved that delays in collecting evidence are significantly reduced.
What about the small businesses that don’t have the technical back up/support of larger stores will they be more vulnerable?
The advantage of Facewatch is that it is very easy to use and doesn’t cost anything to sign up to the basic service. Small businesses should have no difficulty using it however if they do they can still send police their footage in the post or by email, they just need to call us on 101 first so we can create a crime report for them. As long as you have access to the internet, you should be able to access the service.
Will you stop investigating shoplifting offences?
No we are just making it more efficient. We want to encourage people to report retail crime, we just want businesses to quickly and easily upload their CCTV footage and give us details of the offence online. It is a change of process that should lead to a faster service.
Surely it is the job of the police to collect evidence?
CCTV enquiries represent a significant proportion of work often with repeated visits to the same location to collect footage that hasn’t been prepared and, in some instances, large distances are being travelled to collect CCTV. Analysis shows that an officer spends 70-75% of their time collecting and processing CCTV footage which is costly and inefficient. Modern technology means that CCTV retrieval can now be done instantly and easily at no cost and therefore, in the interests of looking after the public purse it makes perfect sense.
Will you still arrest people for shoplifting?
Whether a person is arrested at the scene or not depends on a number of factors, the most important factor being the risk the individual offender represents to retailers and the community in terms of reoffending or is wanted for other offences. In some cases it may be more appropriate to deal with the offender at the scene by way of a caution.
Does it cost anything?
The basic package is free. It just requires an internet connection to access the Facewatch website.
How does Facewatch help Police?
- reduces need to travel and visit premises
- reduces time to collect all the necessary data
- ability to view CCTV footage & evidence of the incident instantly
- ability to review still imagery of the subject of interest instantly provides an early opportunity to establish the suspects ID
- uses already approved witness statements available via the online platform
- ability to view incident associates combined with primary subject of interest details
- ability to view multiple incidents in a similar area linked with the same subject of interest on a map
- keep up to date with incidents happening in your local area
- ability to link subjects of interest with multiple locations across the country
Does Leicestershire Police have a major problem with shoplifting?
By its nature shoplifting is a high volume crime and one that is experienced by every force in the country. Leicestershire Police receives approximately 6000 reports of retail crime a year which accounts for 10% of all crime and averages at 16.7 crimes a day. There is a clear business case to adopt a more efficient and effective process making best use of both current and future technological advances in securing and preserving evidence.
Facewatch benefits to retail businesses
- convenient to use system when it suits you
- easy to use and intuitive system with minimal training required
- reduces the need for inconvenient appointments to gather the evidence
- saves time for both retailers and the police in reporting and recording the crimes
- able to pass on information and CCTV evidence in a secure way
- ability to keep track of investigations with electronic updates
- a full auditable system that helps you keep track of current and historic reports if needed
- provides retailers with a more efficient and effective way to report crimes
- once reported via Facewatch the police are immediately able to begin an investigation without any delays in securing information and CCTV evidence as with existing processes
- CCTV images stored by Facewatch can be used to compare against facial recognition software to aid identification of suspects
- Facewatch make use of developing technology to help support both retailers and the police to bring offenders to justice
- in areas where Facewatch has already been introduced there is evidence of it providing an increased deterrent value against retail crime as there is a risk of being identified and caught
- the service provided by Facewatch assists the police prepare evidence provided by retailers in a format acceptable for use in Court