The National Business Crime Solution (NBCS) – a not-for-profit organisation that enables the sharing of data between law enforcement agencies and the business community in order to reduce crime – is celebrating the success of the very first Business Impact Reduction Day (BIRD). Also known as Operation BIRD, this is an industry-led initiative that’s designed to target and manage the effect of business-related crime activity.
The initial exercise took place at the Westfield Stratford City Shopping Centre in east London, where 51 security and loss prevention professionals from across the industry joined forces with the police service and retailers to target prolific and persistent offenders.
The brainchild of the NBCS, Operation BIRD was supported by the Metropolitan Police Service’s Business Crime Hub, the National Business Crime Centre, the Territorial Support Group, the London Borough of Newham and Westfield Stratford City, all of which played a vital role in planning and executing the project.
The day began with a full briefing and the identification of persistent offenders, who were to be apprehended in a safe manner with no violence. In addition, several ‘Super Recognisers’ from the Metropolitan Police Service were present to identify any other offenders on the police’s radar. Officers in this unit have the ability to instantly place a familiar face thanks to their photographic memory. This is a particular skill that some researchers estimate is present in just 1% of the population.
Operation BIRD proved to be a remarkable success with 18 detentions and various actions including penalty notices, community resolutions and civil recoveries, as well as a number of arrests and charges. Perhaps the most significant – and unexpected – result of the day concerned the apprehension of a 15 year-old female from the north of England. It transpired that the young girl was the victim of child sexual exploitation and being coerced into shoplifting. The girl is now under the auspices of the child protection authorities and currently in care.
Implementation of consistent training
Speaking about Operation BIRD, the NBCS’ managing director Daniel Hardy commented: “The story of how this vulnerable young person came to be shoplifting in Westfield Shopping Centre was truly shocking. It has brought into sharp focus why safeguarding intervention requires sensitive and considerate handling when dealing with the victims of child sexual exploitation. It has also highlighted the need for security services providers to educate their officers on this subject and implement consistent training. The NBCS will be looking to drive this forward with its industry partners, while further Operation BIRD activities will take place around the country in places that our intelligence suggests are crime hotspots.”
Detective chief inspector Georgina Barnard, leader of the National Business Crime Centre, was equally impressed with the results. “Operation BIRD has proven what can be achieved when relevant parties join forces to target and prevent the impact of business-related crime activity. I applaud the NBCS for this initiative and very much look forward to working on similar activities in the future.”