Over the past few months a number of Wrexham.com forum users have been posting on ‘Crime Stats and Unreported Crimes’ thread, voicing concerns over crime figures. The overall response on the forums is that the crime statistics are not accurate figures due to the number of crimes that go unreported.
On Monday Wrexham.com met with Inspector Mark Williams from North Wales Police who offered responses to several forum comments that we had selected to show him. All these comments, and more, can be viewed on the Wrexham.com forums here.
Many of the forum comments focus on shoplifting in the area and the number of unreported crimes & experiences with attempting to report crime.
Overall shop lifting figures for the County show a 2.4% reduction rate, with a detection rate of 73.7%. This includes rural areas of Wrexham, along with figures in the town centre. Obviously an issue with such statistics is that they reflect recorded figures, however if incidents are not reported, or as suggested ignored then the figures do not give a true picture.
One Wrexham.com forum member posted saying: “I work in a supermarket in the town and the police have told our security they will not deal with shoplifting if the value is under £20 as it’s a waste of their time. Now we just have to ban people and they all go unreported!”
Speaking about the comment Inspector Williams said: “This is not the impression we want to give people.”
One method the police are encouraging in attempt to reduce shoplifting in the area is by encouraging shop keepers and supermarkets to turn prolific shoplifters away from the premises.
Inspector Williams said: “The average shop lifting case would take around three hours of police officers time to deal with. We are asking for supermarkets to take responsibility and turn known shoplifters away from the store.
“All crimes that are reported are recorded. We are working with shops and CCTV within the town.”
Speaking about prevention not detection, Inspector Williams likened it to witnessing an assault, saying: “If you saw an assault taking place, you wouldn’t wait until a person had been assaulted before you called for help. This is the approach that we are trying to take with shoplifting.”
Back in August Wrexham.com met with Inspector Williams and Sergeant Paul Wycherly regarding shoplifting and shed break ins in the area. During the meeting the ‘grading system’ of calls to the police was explained, with crimes dealt with on a scale of 0-8 with priority. Priority 0 is immediate, Priority one is urgent but not life threatening and Priority two is routine enquiries and we get there as an when we possibly can.
Another forum post raised was when one shop owner reported a £5 theft, and after showing the officer the CCTV footage was told “Oh yes I know them, but we can’t go and lock her up because it wouldn’t be in the public’s interest.”
Inspector Williams described the response as ‘bizarre’, adding that ‘With a named offender, there’s no way that person wouldn’t have been dealt with, on the face of it I would agree with the comment.”
However it was also added that factors such as mental health or age are taken into account with regards to these situations; along with the value of the item, which can change the priority eg. theft of jewelry etc.
Another comment that was left on our forums surrounded a tweet that Inspector Williams had put out regarding shoplifting (copied below) and “Why is the police’s response to put more CSO’s in the town?” , CSO being Community Support Officers.
Spike in shoplifting in Wrexham over the weekend. Increased police presence this week to deter and detect.
— Mark Williams (@NWPWrexhamTown) October 14, 2013
Inspector Williams said: “We put more CSO’s in town as it works. An increase in uniform around the town deters offenders. We do use undercover in town, would like to stress the emphasis is on prevention of crime not detection.
“Officers work shifts and try to target key times. We have to target resources to areas at times.”
We were told that over the Christmas period there will be an increase in the number of plain clothes officers to help prevent shoplifting incidents.
We also asked Inspector Williams about the lesser known shoplifters in the area and why people have turned to shop lifting.
Inspector Williams said: “It’s an easy to commit offence, shop layouts and the economic effect have had an impact on the level of shoplifting. With the current economic climate you find more people are now shoplifting for necessity.”
Inspector Williams has also recommended that those who have voiced their concerns on the forums or have witnessed / experienced shoplifting should contact him to discuss the situations further.
Over the next few days we will be publishing more information on other crime related topics that people have been in touch with Wrexham.com about.
You can join in with the ongoing debate on the Crime Stats and Unreported Crime thread here…
(We had issues with new users registering on the forum, so if you have attempted previously please try again!)
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