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The Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Latest Update



On Wednesday, we welcomed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to Horsham as the Government announced further measures to tackle retail crime, including that assault against a shopworker is to become a stand-alone offence.

Under this new law, if someone assaults a shopworker, they could be sent to prison for up to six months and they could receive an unlimited fine and a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) barring them from visiting specific premises. Breaching a CBO is also a criminal offence which carries a 5-year, maximum prison sentence.

Further to the recently launched Retail Action Plan, which sets out national policing’s commitment to tackling shoplifting, the Prime Minister also announced that the most serial offenders, who target our country’s high streets, will be forced to wear electronic tags. I am particularly pleased about this, having suggested it to Ministers several months ago as a way to deter our most prolific shoplifters.

The Government will also provide investment for police to increase their use of facial recognition technology, further helping to catch perpetrators and keep our high streets safe.



Welcoming the new announcements



I was delighted that the Prime Minister visited our county to see, first-hand, how Sussex Police are relentlessly tackling business and retail crime, using unique reporting technology to speed up investigations and setting up a dedicated Business Crime Unit.

The visit this week also acknowledges the tremendous work undertaken by numerous organisations across Sussex all working together to combat retail crime, which my office boosted in 2020 with the formation of our Safer Sussex Business Partnership.

As mentioned in a previous newsletter, throughout the last year, I have been working very closely with 14 of the country’s top retailers to launch the Pegasus partnership - providing nearly £1 million to fund a specialist unit within OPAL - national policing’s operational arm for serious acquisitive crime.

The analysts in OPAL will, for the first time ever, build a comprehensive intelligence picture of the number of organised crime gangs behind many shoplifting incidents across the country, helping to successfully target and dismantle them. Facial recognition technology will also be a key part of this.

Retailers are currently being urged to take up the offer of training from OPAL on how best to submit intelligence and share data.

I have long supported the national retailers’ call for ‘assaulting a shopworker’ to be made a standalone offence and was the first to suggest to Ministers that persistent shoplifters should be tagged so I am very pleased with this week’s visit.

The announcements from the Prime Minister also send a clear message that these crimes are taken extremely seriously, that police will now have further tools and powers to get a grip on shoplifting and that policing nationally will robustly deal with the most prolific and violent offenders and gangs operating across our retail sector.



Katy Bourne OBE


Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner