Insight: Building an offender/suspect database: The risks and rewards

24th September 2019

Theft is a growing concern for retailers in the UK. Data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows there was an 8% increase in the number of shoplifting offences in 2017, whilst police figures indicate shoplifting in British supermarkets has increased by more than 7% in the last four years alone. As alarming as these statistics may be, theft is just one of many offences retailers are trying to combat; there’s also a desperate need to reduce money fraud, checkout fraud and burglary. 

The British Retail Consortium’s Retail Crime Survey 2019 saw the cost crime and crime prevention for retailers was £1.9 billion last year, up 12% from the previous year (£1.7bn). This was made up of £900 million as a direct cost from retail crime, and £1 billion spent on measures to minimise retail crime. It’s therefore clear that retailers are reacting to the rise in retail crime and are willing to invest in preventative measures, but with such a huge increase in spend, it’s never been more important for retailers to combine resources, working collaboratively to share expertise and tackle the symptoms of crime, enabling proactive planning and optimised decision making. One approach that is often well worth considering for retailers is the offender database approach. 

Rewards of building an offender database

Building an offender database can minimise loss and allow for more proactive planning, and that’s especially the case with our Incident Reporting, Analysis & Risk Management Platform; Synapse. There are two main elements: a mobile app that allows self-reporting of incidents from various locations; and a central intelligence database for collating the reported data, analysing intelligence, and enabling resources and actions to be deployed in a streamlined and efficient manner. Below are just a few of the rewards retailers can reap from utilising this cutting-edge software.

Upload evidence securely

Synapse allows businesses to log offenders during incident reporting, with secure upload of offender images and CCTV footage. This allows retailers to collate evidence to support investigations and escalations to the police and local authorities.

Protect profits

An opportunist thieve could potentially become a repeat offender, but with Synapse you can build an offender library to help protect profits for regular thefts at retail locations. The central intelligence database allows for early identification, enhancing safety for staff and customers. We know that regular occurring offenders who are a continuous risk to others often move between sites, meaning they can be difficult to profile, however, the centralised database solves this issue and provides additional security checks and procedures. 

Take action quickly

Retailers are fully entitled to ban offenders from entering their premises and Synapse securely hosts a centralised offender, ban and sanction register for offenders at locations, meaning your team can bar offenders from your store quickly and easily, whilst you’re also able to issue civil recovery fines. 

Utilise sophisticated tools to identify trends

Algorithmic relationship mapping, monitoring and linking of offenders is all made possible with Synapse. By utilising these features, you can form organised groups, identifying trends and relationships, whilst enabling more effective use of intelligence. You’re also able to alert nearby staff and sites when confirmed offender sightings are made and this tool is backed up by the ability to quickly add police compliant warning signals and markers (violence, drugs, drink, mental, alleges etc.) with predefined workflows and tasks on how to deal with people with the various warning markers, therefore putting the safety of people first.

Minimise human error in reporting

During an incident, dynamic question sets allows users to quickly capture specific information about the incident or offence that has occurred, capturing imagery and footage, property damage details, tracking of vehicles and other forms of evidence from victims and witnesses and severity-based involvement of police and authorities. When high quality quantitative data is captured, it’s much easier to report on trends and relationships, whilst you can build the database in preparation for moving to facial recognition technology in the near future. 

The risks of building an offender database

As important as it is to consider the features of our advanced reporting software, it’s just as crucial to look at the potential drawbacks for many businesses. The main issues are in relation to managing sensitive data. For example, there are certain questions that will be asked of companies when they’re building an offender database, such as:

1. How long do you keep it for?
2. Where did the images come from?
3. What is your need to store these files?
4. Who can access the software?
5. Is the database GDPR compliant?
6. Does it adhere to Data Protection Act (DPA), the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act (CPIA), the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)?
7. Does it follow Data security and encryption best practices?

These are all very relevant questions that show just how important it is to build an offender database in the right way, but Synapse has been built from the ground up, and our experienced team has a wealth of experience in loss prevention, and we can help ensure your company is developing the central intelligence database in the right way, adhering to strict compliance and regulations. For example, Synapse includes Extended Validation (EV), which turns the address bar green in high-security browsers, showing that the organisation has met the industry’s highest standard of authentication. SSL Web Server Certificates with EV enables a 256-bit encryption in the latest operating systems and web browsers with server-gated cryptography (SGC). 

Offender data is well protected too, delivering a symmetrical encryption algorithm (AES256) that has become ubiquitous, due to the acceptance of the algorithm by the U.S. and Canadian governments as standards for encrypting transited data and data at rest. 

If you’d like to learn more about Synapse, or wish to speak to us about your vision for building an offender database to minimise loss, please call us on +44 (0)1604 59 89 99 or email info@zinc.systems and we’ll be back in touch as soon as possible. 

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