GO! Southampton helps city centre businesses fight back against crime

Martin Conlan at Watts Park Southampton 2019


Crime can have a crippling effect on local businesses and high streets. New figures revealed by The British Retail Consortium today (March 21) showed retail crime cost the industry £1.9bn a year – 20 per cent of its annual profits.

The cost of theft rose a worrying 31% to £700m, according to the organisation’s latest Retail Crime Survey.

The number of violent attacks against staff is also significant, with an average of 115 retail employees getting attacked every day.

At a time when retailers are already faced with challenges – from the uncertainty of Brexit to the rise in online shopping – it’s another battle for local businesses.

Now, GO! Southampton is fighting back and has found a new way to tackle high street crime.

Martin Conlan gathers evidence, liaises with the authorities and even trains businesses on how to reduce their risk of being a victim of crime. Already he’s helped to secure four prison sentences and three restraining orders against some of the city centre’s most persistent retail criminals.

Martin, who spent 30 years in the police force, said: “People can mistakenly think that retail crime is victimless but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Quite often security staff and shop workers are subjected to assault and this can be a terrifying ordeal. Consumers also pay the price, having to shell out more for products as a result of retailers losing money on lost stock. For small businesses the loss of stock can be crippling and in the worst situations they can be forced out of business as a result.”

Martin is employed by GO! Southampton and is working hard to reduce crime that affects businesses such as shoplifting, vandalism and threatening behaviour.

He meets face-to-face with businesses to hear about the issues that are affecting them and helps them by gathering intelligence and building up a file of evidence that he can pass on to Hampshire Constabulary.

It means he can piece together information from different crimes and identify patterns – effectively getting a bird’s eye view of crime in the city centre.

Chief Executive of the BID Giles Semper said: “As the results of the British Retail Consortium’s latest survey show, crime can have a huge impact on businesses. We’re pleased to be taking real action in Southampton with the introduction of Martin to our team. We now have a much better idea of the prolific offenders in the BID area, which helps the police to resolve the issues.”

Martin also sees prevention as an important part of his role. He will soon start working with BID levy payers to educate them on steps they can take to reduce their chances of being a victim of crime. This might include tips such as having clearer window space, positioning CCTV cameras correctly and guidance on how to spot tell-tale signs of a shoplifter.