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26 June, 2021 - 00:26 By Tony Quested

Mitie and Cambridge University alliance to fight retail crime

Mitie, which has operations in Northampton, has partnered with University of Cambridge criminologists to undertake cutting-edge research into retail crime to help businesses reduce cases of theft and violence against shopworkers.

The University of Cambridge’s Institute of Criminology is one of the world’s leading institutes in criminology.

This pioneering partnership will focus on how businesses can leverage technology, such as remotely monitored CCTV and real-time security alerts for shopworkers, in combination with security officers on the ground to reduce retail crime. 

The initiative is the first of its kind in the UK and demonstrates Mitie’s commitment to work with public and private sector organisations to help keep the nation safe.

The partnership will see Mitie provide University of Cambridge criminologists with access to anonymous crime data – such as details on thefts and incidents of violence against shopworkers – on behalf of national retail customers, sharing information from its stores across the UK. 

The research team will use this information, alongside data on the number of Security Officers and technology solutions available at each store, to test if a change in the blend of on-site security officers and technology can help reduce crime. 

Data, including thefts and incidents of violence, will be recorded following each change to determine if there’s a correlation between that and the number of crimes.

The research will also analyse the impact of these different combinations of security solutions with other factors, such as the time of day or store location. For example, this can include increasing the number of security officers in stores at times of the day when thefts are more likely or installing more CCTV cameras in sites with low foot-traffic. 

The University’s team of researchers will then analyse all of this data to identify trends and new opportunities for Mitie to improve its support for customers.

University of Cambridge criminologists will publish the results to create the first evidence-based approach to retail crime. This will then be available to Police Forces and other organisations in the retail and security industries. While the research will initially focus on one supermarket chain, over time more of Mitie’s national retail customers will be invited to participate in the initiative.

Jason Towse, managing director, Business Services, Mitie, said: “Once again we’re leading the industry with a unique security partnership to help fight crime across the UK. 

“We’re very proud to be working with the University of Cambridge, which has one of the world’s leading institutes in criminology, to develop this data-driven approach to help us stay one step ahead of the criminals targeting our high streets. 

“With retail crime and violence against shopworkers on the rise, this research will be key to keeping our customers, people and communities safe.”  

Dr Matthew Bland, Lecturer in Evidence Based Policing, University of Cambridge, added: “The Institute of Criminology at Cambridge has a long history of working with crime fighting organisations all over the world, to develop the evidence about what works and what doesn’t in reducing harm. We are excited to be able to continue this work by testing innovations in retail security and look forward to sharing our findings with the wider Evidence-Based Policing community in due course.”

The partnership will be underpinned by Mitie’s Global Security Operations (GSO) service, its technology and intelligence-led security solution, and is part of Mitie’s efforts to work with public and private sector organisations to help fight crime across the UK.

For example, Mitie partnered with independent charity Crimestoppers to share information on criminal behaviour gathered by businesses to support police investigations. 

As part of the initiative, Mitie and Crimestoppers have launched a report highlighting the key factors and trends driving retail crime and inviting people to anonymously share any information on criminal activity in retail stores.

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