EMPAC open call on operational policing challenges

EMPAC is all about bringing together the best thinking and insights in order to improve policing and better protect the public. We are interested in driving accelerated innovation and enterprise in order to tackle crime.

EMPAC has hosted a number of successful Roundtables on key policing issues in the past, and continues this now by inviting all interested parties, who have something to offer, to join us to help tackle pressing operational policing challenges.

The principle is to bring people together on particular topics to share best practice and identify professional and research evidence to seek new insights to accelerate policing improvement. After all, two heads are better than one and many hands make light work!

Let’s work together

Law enforcement professionals and academic researchers alike are encouraged to get involved if they have a shared interest in these topics, and can help identify innovative and enterprising practice improvement opportunities for investigation, disruption or prevention.

The first identified operational challenges are:-

  • Curtain side lorry theft

Criminals often work in gangs to cut their way into parked lorries to steal cargo goods and transport the stolen contents away on a waiting vehicle. It’s happening all too often.

On the criminal market, the stolen items such as alcohol, tobacco, vehicle parts and electrical goods, are adding up to in excess of £90m worth of crime.

  • Cannabis grows

The National Police Chief’s Council have repeatedly reported that the illegal  cultivation of cannabis poses a significant risk to the UK, and often involves organised crime groups (OCGs).

According to a National Problem Profile (NPCC, 2014) the UK street price of illegal drugs is amongst the highest in Europe and this attracts criminality for profit and for a means to fund other criminal activity, including money laundering, human trafficking and illegal immigration.

  • Catalytic converter theft

Catalytic converter theft is on the rise, with some insurance companies reporting a 44% increase in claims. The metals in catalytic converters can be rare and worth a lot, even more than gold in the criminal marketplace, and can be too easily sold on.

Some analysts suggest that organised crime rings could be involved in this activity and we need to both understand and do more to tackle the problem.

  • Dog theft

Public concerns over dog theft have rocketed during the pandemic period and there are now calls to create a specific offence as currently dogs are classified as ‘property’ under the Theft Act 1968.

Some surveys are reporting over 80% of respondents experiencing more concerns over talking their dog for a walk now  for fear of being attacked and their dog snatched (APCC, 2021).

Problem solving

We are interested in enabling a broad approach to problem solving these issues by brining together partners and stakeholders to share insights. The police can’t solve everything alone, particularly long -term problems. There may be more creative ways to prevent or disrupt crime opportunities by utilising more lateral thinking.

To support this hands on problem solving approach, we’re interested in building on what is the traditional ‘analysis’ role (which tends to be desk bound), and merging that function more with what a detective would do – meaning to get researchers out there helping work out why problems are happening in the first place.

This is a simple but new approach to help support policing bring in creative and lateral insights and beat the crook. We hope that the venture will help us move beyond describing problem solving to explaining it and locking into more lasting solutions.

Each of the proposed Roundtables will be offered an introductory and grounded problem solving context to get ideas moving; starting with curtain sided thefts, in the Autumn of 2021.

If you have an interest, and something to offer, in helping tackle these challenges in the first instance get in touch with EMPAC at :- john.coxhead@empac.org.uk


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