West Yorkshire Police and BACIL (Business Against Crime in Leeds) joined forces to run a day of action to tackle shoplifting in the city-centre.  Known as ‘Operation Balmton’, the manoeuvre consisted of police officers, PCSOs and plain clothed security officers working together in teams with great success.  Over the course of the day five theft offences were identified and dealt with, one of which led to the recovery of £17,000 worth of stolen goods.

To carry out the operation the city was split into three zones:

Zone 1 –
Merrion Centre, St John’s Centre, The Light and the Headrow

Zone 2 –
Albion Street, Commercial Street, Lands Lane and Trinity

Zone 3 –
Briggate, Vicar Lane, Victoria Quarter and Victoria Gate

All teams were briefed in the morning at Leeds Central Police Station and then spent the day focussed exclusively on targeting shoplifters. 

Sean Walker, BACIL Manager, comments: “It was a very successful day that brought immediate results.  Police attended one big city store and spoke to a man detained on suspicion of theft from the shop on three separate occasions over the last few days.  Officers then searched his home and large amounts of stolen clothing and perfume were found: 67 items in total were seized with a total value of £17,000.  The offender, who had never been arrested previously, was subsequently given a suspended custodial sentence.

“In addition to this, 13 spot checks were carried out on known shoplifters during the day and police officers attended and dealt with five theft offences (three of who were arrested and two were reported for summons).  All parties involved judged the day to be a great success.  It was really valuable for the different teams to work together and to have the time to be able to focus our efforts in one specific area.  We all agreed that this is something we hope to do again in the future.”

Inspector Andy Berriman who leads the city policing team adds: “We have a very strong partnership here in Leeds, the successes on this day of action demonstrate that.  It is not just about enforcement from the police perspective, we are looking at the drivers behind offending, often drug and alcohol addiction, and working to ensure those committing crime get the help and support they need to help steer them away from a life of crime.”

BACIL is a joint venture between West Yorkshire Police, Leeds City Council and Safer Leeds, which works with over 350 day and night time businesses throughout the city to make Leeds a safer place to live, work and play.  It was set up in 2006 to protect business premises and individuals.  Since its creation there has been a significant reduction in business crime and the scheme has grown rapidly: it now includes additional areas including Kirkstall Bridge and Crown Point Retail Parks.

All of the participating businesses are connected via two-way radios and tablets, which give their staff instant access to the police and each other should they witness any suspicious behaviour.  The tablets also allow information to be shared in real time and provide access to up to date pictures of known offenders operating in the Leeds/Yorkshire area.


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