Project Pegasus: Tesco, John Lewis & Next to deter shoplifters with new CCTV police scheme

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The new scheme will run the faces of thieves through the Police National Database

Tesco, John Lewis and Next are among ten of Britain’s largest retailers who are coming together to fund a new police operation aimed to deter shoplifters in their stores. The new scheme, named Project Pegasus, will run CCTV pictures of shoplifting incidents through the Police National Database - in a a bid to minimise these types of crimes and identify thieves.

According toThe Times, the scheme is being funded by the retailers and is expected to cost £600,000. The scheme will use facial recognition technology, giving police a “national picture of where shoplifting gangs are operating and the shops they are targeting”.

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The move comes after the Office for National Statistics revealed shoplifting crimes have risen by a quarter this year.

Ministers reportedly met police chiefs and retail representatives last week to “hammer out plans to target shoplifters”. Meanwhile, Tesco’s CEO also addressed the issue of shoplifting last week, as the retail giant announced plans to offer staff members bodycams to reduce the amount of assault on shop workers.

Policing minister Chris Philp has “tasked police leaders with drawing up a target list of prolific shoplifters” to set up a national shoplifting database which can be used by police and retailers nationwide, says The Times.

Earlier this year, Co-op raised concerns as with crime in its outlets had icreasing by more than one third over the past year. According to the BBC, there were about 1,000 cases of crime, shoplifting and anti-social behaviour in its shops every day in the six months to June, the chain said.

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However, the retail convenience store said a Freedom of Information request had shown many police forces did not prioritise retail crime, with, on average, 71% of serious retail crime not responded to by police.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said forces were doing "everything possible to tackle offenders and support retailers in reducing shoplifting and attacks on retail staff".

But the Co-op called for an "urgent change" from the police and "for all forces to target repeat and prolific offenders to reverse the existing environment in many cities where criminal gangs operate, exempt from consequences".

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