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Boots joins UK retail giants to fund Home Office operation tackling shoplifting

The multiple has joined other retailers in collectively pledging £840,000 to launch “Operation Pegasus” aimed at tackling retail crime, it has announced.

Boots joined 12 other UK retailers to launch a national partnership “to tackle retail crime” at 10 Downing Street yesterday (October 23).

The multiple said that the partnership, which also includes retail giants the Co-op, Primark and John Lewis, “will collectively fund a team of specialist police officers and intelligence analysts”.

The Home Office said that 13 retailers have collectively pledged to provide over £840,000 to the initiative.

Read more: ‘Get on the floor’: Kent man jailed for gunpoint pharmacy robbery

A government spokesperson told C+D today (October 24) that the 13 retailers – of which Boots is the only pharmacy chain – have each agreed to provide £30,000 a year for the next two years, with the first years’ worth of funding matched by the Home Office.

The Home Office added that the project, coined “Operation Pegasus” and led by Sussex police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne, is “the first national partnership of its kind”.

It revealed that the plan includes “a police commitment” to “prioritise urgently attending the scene” of violent shoplifting incidents, after security has detained an individual or when police are needed to “secure evidence”.

Read more: Boots’ clampdown on crime sees staff at extra 225 pharmacies get body cams        

It said that a new specialist police team will help to “target and dismantle” the “organised crime gangs that fuel many shoplifting incidents” and that police forces will “step up” patrols in crime hotspots.

The Home Office also advised that retailers can provide the best shoplifting evidence by sending CCTV footage and images of the shoplifters to police “as quickly as possible after an offence has been committed”.


“Growing problem of organised crime in stores”


Boots director of retail operations and loss Jane Rumens said that the multiple was “glad to play [its] part” in tackling “the growing problem of organised crime in stores”.

She added that the new initiative should help Boots “stores continue to be safe places for people to work and shop”.

Read more: UK gang members jailed for part in illegal sale of prescription meds worth £3.7m

The multiple said that it is helping police make “criminal prosecutions” by identifying “persistent offenders” and building an “evidence base of higher impact cases”.

And it added that “a growing proportion of theft in stores is being committed by organised criminal groups”.

Read more: Police chief: Theft in pharmacies may rise as cost-of-living crisis bites

In April last year, C+D’s crime in pharmacies investigation found that pharmacies endured a staggering 5,011 incidents of theft or shoplifting in 2021.

It also found that at least 1,437 reports of violent crimes in pharmacies were reported to the police in 2021, with violent crime accounting for 17.9% of all crimes in pharmacies reported in 2021.

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