Inspector Kevin Harmsworth, joined Wiltshire Police in 2003, and has since worked front line operational policing in Swindon, Melksham, Trowbridge, Armed Response, Roads Policing, and more recently from 2019, Neighbourhood Policing across the Warminster, Westbury, Tisbury and Mere community areas.
Kevin has lived in Wiltshire for 37 years and in his third article in the series he focuses on the problem of Business Crime.
Inspector Kevin Harmsworth writes:
An issue recently dominating the news headlines is thefts from businesses and how this is – or isn’t – prioritised by policing. I know this is something communities are keen to see an improvement in service from us. Locally, we’ve continued direct engagement with retailers, helping develop improved support to through our community policing teams. One of the Chief Constable’s key priorities is Safer Public Spaces, and she has been requesting regular updates across the County and Swindon to ensure we are monitoring our performance in this area. We take all reports of crime seriously and will follow all reasonable lines of enquiry to hold people to account for their actions. We recently took part in a national week of action, holding Safer Business Action days to support businesses and reduce business crime, particularly shoplifting. In the week commencing October 16th, our Neighbourhood Teams engaged with retailers and communities to raise awareness of business crime. Advice and support were given to retailers in the form of crime and violence prevention advice and the opportunity to join the Force-wide Business Watch initiative through the Community Messaging system Home Page – Wiltshire and Swindon Community Messaging (wiltsmessaging.co.uk). The public were also asked to be alert and help report shoplifting offences to shop staff or directly to Wiltshire Police. From September 2022 to August 2023 Wiltshire Police had 4050 reported incidents of shoplifting, but we know this is just a fraction of all crimes. Under-reporting is widely acknowledged by the retail sector to be between 16% and 38% with the large supermarkets facing the brunt of the thefts. We continue to target intervention on known prolific offenders to reduce crime. We also use out of court resolutions primarily for low-level offending where the crime or incident can be resolved without going to Court. This offers a timely end to an incident, providing education and rehabilitation for offenders and reparation for victims. This demonstrates how we recognise there are societal (not just individual) drivers to crime. Upbringing, health, and social background can change the direction we take in life. Many offenders have mental health issues, alcohol abuse and/or substance abuse problems. We seek to divert offenders from further offending whilst dealing with the underlying contributory issues on a case-by-case basis. Please continue to report any issues regarding shoplifting to us and please be assured that we are taking it incredibly seriously as we pursue the Chief’s priority of Safer Public Spaces. I’d also like to remind everyone that you can find information about local policing events and meetings in your area by using the ‘Your Area’ section on our website. This directs you to the right place to report all your concerns to us, from crime and antisocial behaviour, to contacting an officer directly. You can also tell us about something you are concerned about in your neighbourhood.”
Last modified: 2 November 2023