Theft from borough shops are on the rise – but police lack suspects

Lack of suspects
Lack of suspects
Share this article

Police had no suspects in more than half the reports of shoplifting in the borough last year, shock figures reveal.

Data obtained under the Freedom Of Information Act show there were 1,660 incidents of shoplifting recorded by Greater Manchester Police between April 2016 and March 2017.

This was a 35.17 per cent increase from the 1,228 reports made in the same period in 2012-13.

Despite the rise over the five years, the number of reports has actually stayed relatively stable in recent years. There were 1,634 incidents in 2014-15, 1,600 in 2015-16 and 1,660 in 2016-17.

But the number of crimes with no suspects has risen massively, according to the information.

In 2012-13, 29.72 per cent of the 1,228 reports (365) had no suspect, but this has increased over the years to 55.66 per cent in 2016-17 (924 of the 1,660 incidents).

That figure had gone up from 51.5 per cent in 2015-16, when 825 of the 1,600 crimes had no suspect.

There has also been a drop in the number of people charged after these incidents.

However, there can be more than one suspect to a crime or more than one crime per person, and other options are available such as cautions and restorative justice.

There were 489 suspects charged in 2012-13, compared to 312 suspects in 2016-17, according to the information.

Cautions were given to 53 people, including children, in 2012-13, falling to just 12 in 2016-17. Penalty notices were issued to 148 people in 2012-13, dropping to just eight in 2016-17.

Restorative justice was used for 170 people in 2012-13 and 103 people in 2016-17.

Along with the data, the police provided information about work they are doing the stamp out shoplifting in the borough. An operation is being run over

Christmas by the Wigan East neighbourhood policing team, which looks at shoplifting in Leigh town centre, Atherton and Tyldesley.

Officers have been prioritising the arrest of prolific offenders who commit several offences. Preventative work is taking place in Wigan town centre with Wigan Borough Business Crime Partnership team. In June, police identified shops in Pemberton run by small independent retailers as having a particular problem, as they had been targeted by shoplifters for some time, often the same prolific offenders.

Neighbourhood officers and PCSOs conduct high-visibility patrols in hot-spot locations at peak times, identified through regular reviews of crime trends.

Shift changes are made when needed so the patrols can take place.

Officers have been visiting known offenders regularly and shops help by collating all the evidence they have against prolific offenders.

PCSOs and shops also share information, particularly to inform other shops when they see prolific offenders. For example, they tell them what clothes they were wearing so they can look out for them and increase their own security.

Meetings are also held with Wigan Council partners to establish if further enforcement measures can be used for identified offenders. The police use social media regularly to keep residents informed.