The UK is made up of over 250 Business Crime Reduction Partnerships (BCRP), from a simple shared radio link through to highly managed intelligence-led teams integrated with Policing to deliver local and regional crime reduction strategies.
With the constraints on finances across all business sectors and the increase in crime and antisocial behaviour, I wanted to see for myself the invaluable work that a BCRP does in keeping our communities safe.
Brighton, located in Brighton & Hove, is a large diverse city with issues in recruitment due to the fact it’s a seaside location, you can only recruit one way unless you want mermaids! For us, as a security provider, it’s one of the hardest places to recruit security personnel, however with a local BCRP having over 600 members, it’s one of the largest, most proactive and integrated BCRP’s in the country.
On Thursday the 20th of July 2023, I arranged with the BCRP manager ‘Lisa Peretta’ to visit Brighton and spend a day with the team to understand what work they do and how they make a positive impact.
On arrival at John Street, I was welcomed in the foyer of Brighton’s Police station and taken up to the BCRP offices located in the heart of the station. Lisa took no time in giving me an overview of the work the team do. Now, I have been in retail security since leaving school, (so not long), well perhaps over 30 years! And to say I was gob smacked is an understatement! The BCRP team are integral to the Policing of Brighton and the safety and security of the retail space and community.
My perception of a BCRP was to keep the radios running, pass data on the reporting platform and liaise with businesses. This yes, they do, but what I didn’t appreciate is everything else. Nighttime economy, safety and intelligence which includes night marshals (from the bid) to keep the vulnerable safe, moving them to safe spaces or getting them home, case file management all the way through to support in community protection warnings, notices, and orders, all designed to reduce the risks to our community and businesses. At the centre of it all, a BCRP engagement officer, that patrols the streets liaising with businesses, gathering intelligence, and proactively supporting crime reduction in the city.
Lisa manages the team with the passion unseen for many years, there is no digressing from the work chat, no variations from the one goal, reduce crime. Training and community resolution was at the heart of what Lisa and the team do, they work with many different support agencies to support and recognise the crimes of the individuals, from getting parents in to watch CCTV of their child misbehaving to supporting in full community resolution orders. The balanced approach of the team was great to see and hear – COVID effect was mentioned several times, if you were 14 when it hit the UK, your now 18, the missed years of structure and support has had a huge impact on society.
The greatest difference I witnessed when spending time with the team was that retailers look to displace crime, it’s a silo approach in most cases, with the only want ‘to stop the crime in their store’, however a BCRP looks to reduce crime for all and support offenders into rehabilitation. It’s a full circle collaborative approach.
As I leave the Police station and hit the beat with the team, we are met by 2 BID Wardens, 2 PCSO’s and the BCRP officer. Is this normal was the first question – Yes came the adamant response. Each week the BCRP team, BID Wardens and Policing work together to identify offenders, build intelligence, target known offenders and show a collaborative force.
We started visiting the businesses in Churchill Square to ensure they were reporting, what issues they had and just ensuring they feel protected and valued. Heading down North Street after liaising with some aggressive beggars, we popped into one store that utilises their radio system up to 30 times a day! The most targeted store for theft in Brighton it seems. (don’t worry the brand are now aware).
As we continue to search a location that was believed to be a ‘den’ for stolen goods, further intel was gathered, and we headed back to North Street. Constantly stopping to liaise with retailers, it was pleasing to see the engagement from the management and retail teams, sharing intel and concerns with the BCRP. Throughout this engagement time, the radio comms did not stop, again I have never seen such a busy airwave. A call was received to attend the front of Churchill Square, where a shoplifter had left the store following a bulk theft. Within seconds the Bid Wardens had apprehended the offender and the BCRP officer liaising with him and gathering the details. After 5 minutes of interaction and referral to police, the stock was recovered and returned with the offender sent from the city centre whilst awaiting further Police action. (collaboration at its best)
After a successful stop, I headed to a few stores that Lodge provide security, to see the teams. It was great to see and hear how our officers knew and liaised constantly with both the Bid wardens and BCRP officer. We now need to replicate this model across all areas in the country!
As we headed back to the Station, we passed a security vehicle with 2 officers in, hmmm what this I asked? One of the MSU’s was the response. MSU?
Mobile Support Unit, a service delivered in the city aimed at smaller businesses and back up to door staff in the licencing trade. This is fantastic, a service designed for the smaller business without dedicated security resource, such as off licences and convenience stores, and a back up when there is significant threat and door supervisors need support. These businesses can request response to any criminal or anti-social behaviour and the MSU respond and support the business in resolution. All the intel and offences are reported into the BCRP, so it further supports the cities collaborative crime reduction.
There are up to 4 of these vehicles in the city at anyone time as part of the BID service!
When I thought I had heard it all, I was then faced with the last of many services offered in the city, the charity for Brighton’s Beach Patrol. Operating through both day and night to support vulnerable and somewhat drunk persons from the dangers of the sea, patrolling via quad bikes (Baywatch)! Brilliant….
As we debrief in the Police Station and I looked over what I had seen and heard from the day, Lisa wrapped up with providing some insights into the training the team deliver to both local business, Police, and offender management organisations. All of which could help everyone of us in the UK, we do not need to reinvent, there is a tried and tested method right here on the Sussex coast.
So, in summary what take aways and action points do I have:
- BCRPs are an essential and committed set of boots on the ground to reduce crime.
- Learn from what Brighton deliver to improve other less qualified and smaller BCRP’s.
- Report all incidents no matter how small to the BCRP – you don’t realise what cogs that starts turning in the background.
- Liaise with your BCRP team and never underestimate what they do.
- Meetings – attend them they are there for you, stating there isn’t time means you don’t have a rime issue?
- Ask the BCRP for training insights – the material they have is invaluable.
- Keep your CCTV systems operational and available for the BCRP and Police teams, don’t hide behind GDPR or broken hard drives.
- Those responsible for Security budgets for a business, must go back to the floor and visit a BCRP and see the work they do, just because the store manager doesn’t report back, doesn’t mean they aren’t fighting your businesses corner.
- Communicate more with BCRP’s.
- Improve your businesses radio disciplines and get the store teams to communicate.
- Raise the bar – improve your interaction with BCRP’s they are the font of all knowledge in helping you reduce your crime.
- Lastly but by know means least, see how little you pay for such a quality crime reduction service. I guarantee it will be less a week than you pay for a security officer for 1 hour’s work.
For me personally, we at Lodge will now be even more focused on reporting, liaising and being an integrated part of every BCRP we can, they are gold dust, go look for yourself.