40 arrests made in police crackdown on shoplifting, drug dealing and associated crime – Hemel Hempstead
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A proactive police operation to crack down on town centre crime in Hemel Hempstead has seen a 72% reduction in reports.
Operation Cross has been set up to specifically target criminals in the town centre, helping to make it a safer place for businesses and residents alike.
Officers have made 40 arrests since the operation began in November last year and of those, 34 have resulted in the suspect being charged and remanded.
The team began by identifying the three most-targeted retailers in the town centre using police-recorded data, before proactively approaching the stores – Boots, Wilko and Asda – to formulate individual crime prevention plans.
They used a combination of both high-visibility and plain clothes patrols, and officers used their Stop and Search powers (Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984) to target individuals they suspected of committing shoplifting and drug offences. As a result, two people were found to be carrying knives and class A drugs were also seized.
In addition, they worked in collaboration with colleagues from the Dacorum Safer Neighbourhood Team and Operation Scorpion team – as well as town centre traders, Dacorum Borough Council and members of the public – to build up a picture of prolific offenders and their crime patterns. This enabled them to record more than 100 pieces of intelligence – some of which was used to support a search warrant application for a property in the town centre.
Officers forced entry to the building before seizing suspected stolen goods worth an estimated £150,000 and making several arrests. The investigation remains in progress and is now being led by detectives in the Dacorum Local Crime Unit.
PC Lucy Hodgson, who is leading the operation, said: “The motivation behind most shoplifting offences is to sell the stolen goods on to support an addiction, so it’s no surprise that these crimes are often directly linked to drug activity. During the operation, we have also dealt with numerous individuals in connection with the possession of weapons and drugs.”
PS James Watson added: “With chronic issues like this we often need to look at the bigger picture to make a tangible and long-term difference. In this case, we worked with traders to identify and arrest offenders as well as offer support and advice on how to prevent them from being targeted in the future. The reduction of reported offences can be directly attributed to the good working relationships we have built with partners.”
Dacorum Chief Inspector Jason Keane said: "This operation has brought a very good result with 40 arrested and 34 of those having been charged.
"It is important that we are there for local residents and by carrying out this operation, we want to make a long-term positive impact and help make the town centre a safer place for the community. Based on its initial success, Operation Cross will continue this proactive approach into the summer.”
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