Shoplifter arrested as Policing Minister visits Northampton shopping centre
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Police officers arrested a man on suspicion of shoplifting as the Policing Minister visited Northampton to see how the Force is tackling retail crime.
Chris Philp MP visited the town yesterday (Tuesday, December 19) as part of a fact-finding mission to understand how the Force, working with partner organisations, is targeting shoplifters.
He was joined by neighbourhood police officers based in Northampton town centre, the Force’s tactical lead for retail crime, Chief Insp Carl Wilson, as well as the Police, Fire Commissioner, Stephen Mold.
Shortly after speaking to senior staff in Boots and Primark in the Grosvenor Centre, the Minister was just a few feet away as patrol officers arrested a 44-year-old man on suspicion of shoplifting almost £400 of clothing from Superdry and Next.
The suspect, of no fixed address, was held in custody overnight and due to appear before Northampton Magistrates Court today.
The arrest by the Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) came as the Minister learned how Northamptonshire Police has been leading the way in its approach to retail crime.
While the National Police Chiefs Council unveiled its Retail Crime Action Plan in October – currently being embedded across Forces in England and Wales – Northamptonshire Police launched Op Elegance in May 2023 which has seen a dedicated retail crime team working in partnership with Northamptonshire Business Crime Partnership (NBCP).
During its first six months, the number of people charged, cautioned or given community resolutions has risen by 56 per cent on the same period in 2022.
Northamptonshire Police is identifying more shoplifting suspects, and the positive outcome rate is evidence that more are being brought to justice.
The NBCP coordinates all local retail crime initiatives and manages two Retail Crime Evidence Gatherers, funded by the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, who work with Op Elegance police officers to gather best evidence and build trust and confidence within the local retail community.
Op Elegance officers build cases against shoplifters and also support victim stores, many of which are visited in person by the evidence gatherers. A closer working relationship with the NBCP, retailers, and other key stakeholders has been central to problem-solving persistently targeted locations.
Chief Insp Wilson said: “Shoplifting is on the increase nationally, but this Force is making really significant progress in combating retail crime and this was a great opportunity to showcase to the Minister what the Force is doing in this area.
“We will continue to deliver against The Retail Crime Action Plan, with a permanent Retail Crime Team in place early next year that brings with it dedicated officers and staff. All this will help towards our overall aim of making this county a hostile place for retail crime offenders.”
Northamptonshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold said: “It was a pleasure to welcome the Policing Minister to see the proactive approach we are taking to retail crime in Northamptonshire. We have a strong partnership between organisations, and we make sure that the voice of business is central to our plans.”
Update: Court result
Asher Gayle, aged 44, was charged with four counts of theft from a shop following his arrest in Northampton on Tuesday, December 19.
He appeared before Northampton Magistrates’ Court yesterday, Wednesday, December 20, where he pleaded guilty to all four offences.
Gayle, of no fixed address, was sentenced to eight weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and given a six-month drug rehabilitation order.
He was also given a 30-day rehabilitation activity requirement and was told to pay full compensation to the victims of his thefts.