Visit to Hinckley

Visit to Hinckley


Today I came to Hinckley to learn more about how the police, local BID, businesses and council are working together to tackle issues such as Anti-Social Behaviour, shoplifting, pickpocketing and other crimes. I must say that I was impressed by what I learned.

Starting with shoplifting, which has been a real problem in Hinckley in the past, I heard that there has been a combined effort between the police, Hinckley BID and the local council to tackle this menace. Shoplifting is too often dismissed as a minor crime, but for a town centre like Hinckley it can be very serious indeed. If businesses lose too much stock, they become unviable and close down. Empty shop fronts are depressing for a town centre. They lead to falling numbers of visitors, less prosperity and a descending spiral of viability that in extreme cases can turn town centres into a shadow of their former selves.

That is why the successes gained in Hinckley have been so important and heartening. The local police have identified the habits and methods of working of the more prolific shoplifters. Some are local miscreants, but the big impact comes from organised gangs who visit from outside the area. These gangs can turn over thousands of pounds worth of goods in a single day. They often target retail chains, identifying branded goods which are high value but small in volume.

The criminals will scout out shops in the chain in several different towns to identify where the items are on the shelves and routes to and from the shops. Arriving in Hinckley, the gang will park its vehicle, then walk quickly to the store to be targeted. Entering the shop, one gang member walks to the items to be stolen while others act as lookouts. The theft having been made, they head back to their car and drive off. Up to £5,000 worth of goods can be stolen in a visit lasting only 15 minutes.

The counter this, the police identified car parks and walkways being used, and then have worked with the local council CCTV to monitor the routes for criminal activity. Success has been achieved when gangs have been spotted, the theft noted and the number plate of the car circulated to traffic patrols fast enough for the vehicle to be stopped and the gang caught red handed with the stolen goods.

When not enough evidence for a  prosecution has been gathered, the Hinckley BID swings into action. Shop owners and managers are given the identity of suspect persons, who can then be banned from entering shops – stopping their shoplifting in its tracks. The BID and police also offer crime reduction advice to shopkeepers, such as where to locate high-value goods and how to use in-store cctv to best effect.

Anti-Social Behaviour has been a problem in the past, but for some years has largely been under control. Then late in 2022 there was a significant rise in vandalism, graffiti, intimidation and similar activities that were causing problems in the town centre. As with shoplifting, anti-social behaviour can have a serious impact on town centres, such as Hinckley, when it stops people coming to the town centre to shop or enjoy themselves and again can initiate a depressing downward spiral.

Once the police were alerted to the problem by the BID and residents, they quickly set about tackling it. The problem areas were identified, and CCTV operated by the council and shops studied. It soon became clear that the graffiti was largely down to a single individual. He was swiftly identified, arrested and charged. He has since been convicted and handed a prison sentence, which was suspended on condition that he never again carries spray paint of marker pens in public.

Similarly the anti-social behaviour was quickly narrowed down to a small group of about half a dozen teenagers. Once enough evidence had been gathered, the local beat team contacted the individuals and their parents to initiate an escalation process. This highly effective tool sees the police take increasingly severe action with each repeated offence, gradually escalating to criminal prosecutions. In over 95% of cases this quickly brings the ASB to a halt, stopping the problem while at the same time not landing a teenager with a criminal record that could hamper their life chances in years and decades to come.

The pubs and clubs of Hinckley are a major attraction which bring thousands to the town – I’ve even been know to pop into one of the pubs for a small lemonade myself on occasion. That trade and the jobs that it brings depend entirely on the town being safe after dark. Yet wherever these is alcohol there are those who cannot hold their drink. That is why the police are working closely with the local Pub Watch scheme, funded by the Hinckley BID.

Monthly meetings of lincensees identify troublesome individuals who can be banned from the pubs, allows co-operation on promotions and safety. The highly effective disk scheme organized by the BID works behind the scenes to provide real time alerts of any incipient trouble so that it can be promptly nipped in the bud before it becomes a problem.

As a result of this hard work by the local beat team, retail crime and ASB in Hinckley town centre has reduced dramatically in the past three months, while the night time economy is safer and more enjoyable than it has ever been.

Hinckley is a great town with much to recommend it. You can find out about the great activities run by the Hinckley BID and their loyalty card scheme on their website

See you there!


Rupert Matthews
Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland



Posted on Thursday 23rd February 2023
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