NBCS, the UK’s largest member-led business crime data and intelligence sharing organisation for tackling the organised and prolific offenders launched its November 2023 conference last week at the NEC, Birmingham,  flying high as one of the founding stakeholders supporting Project Pegasus, the Home Office and retailer-backed initiative to identify Organised Retail Crime offenders targeting the high street.

The initiative launched last month at 10 Downing Street by Policing Minister Chris Philp and Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne – the national APCC lead on business crime – will be driven by Opal, a national police acquisitive crime unit, with the support of NBCS and its unique access to granular crime data gathered over more than a decade of operation.

The NBCS is well placed to support the initiative having successfully worked with Opal since its inception. This included cases such as Op RAM with Kent Police – a targeted operation discussed at NBCS’s conference – involving eastern European ORC gangs stealing industrial levels of alcohol, an orchestrated poly-criminal spree believed to have resulted in £30 million worth of losses to the victim businesses. The collaboration resulted in the arrest and charging of six offenders in connection with at least £17,000 worth of losses and intelligence-sharing across the UK’s 43 forces through NBCS.

NBCS General Manager Sarah Bird, who attended the Downing Street launch, said: “The NBCS is one of the founders and investors of Pegasus as we see the concept as a step in the right direction in terms of policing’s commitment to tackle the issue.

“We have invested in Pegasus on behalf of our members to help enhance the process. The NBCS has been in the game for 11 years and we have strong and established processes and an unparalleled wealth of intelligence, data and knowledge that can be used to support the police response to organised retail crime (ORC).

“It is key to say that the early investors in Op Opal will not get priority – it is for all retailers who will have access to an equal playing field when it comes to submitting cases involving organised activity,” she said.

“However, the NBCS will provide a systemic structure for all members to submit data and cases into the Pegasus process, something that is very much welcomed by Op Opal which has expressed a preference for cases to come through a few streams as opposed to several.

“To this point, the NBCS has appointed a Pegasus/Opal lead within our Police Liaison team who will act as the main point of contact between the two organisations and will meet and work regularly to get the best from the project when it commences early in the New Year,” she said.

The NBCS also operates beyond the remit of Opal through its continued work with members and law enforcement to identify and target the majority of offenders impacting retail, including local prolific criminals through its Connect Direct service and the slightly more co-ordinated offenders who whilst travelling, would simply not meet the criteria to be defined and an OCG and be escalated to Opal.

Sarah continued: “NBCS’s day-to-day work beyond Pegasus continues for our existing and new members who already have access to our rich stream of data.

“We have more than 100 national retail brands feeding data and intelligence into the NBCS which covers over 40,000 stores, a growing number of distribution centres and supply chain organisations and reaches an estimated 500,000 employees across those businesses.

“We gather granular data from the wider retail and hospitality spectrum – from Supermarket, convenience, fashion, speciality, fast food/cafes and logistics – covering everything from theft, anti-social behaviour, violence, robberies, burglaries and criminal damage.

“In addition, we access data on sub-categorisations such as armed robbery, weapons used, and youth crime as well our work in the digital omni-verse where we collect granular intelligence around malicious online claims which allows us to provide a greater joined-up view of the wider risk issues than any other one organisation outside of the police forces that we deal with on a daily basis where we deliver cases to ready for prosecution.

“The data we collect is fed into our central repository and produces a number of beneficial outputs for members including sector and cross sector benchmarking, member specific reports and a national wide data share view of the picture, with year-on-year comparisons. We are ramping these outputs up through our new Data Product which will be produced monthly to all members and produce insights into hotspot areas across the UK to support members.”

Facial matching

She said NBCS was also continuing to evolve with the launch of its facial matching technology and the appointment of new Data Co-ordinator Megan Hughes.

“Megan will help strengthen the organisation’s response to data and intelligence coming in from members and partners and with the development of a new triage process, we are in the strongest position nationally to tackle retail crime.”

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