POLICE are responding more quickly than before to cases of shoplifting and more suspects are ending up in court, the boss of Beales in Poole has said.

Tony Brown, chief executive of the store’s owner New Start 2020, had complained this summer that Dorset Police would often not come out to thefts in stores.

But he said the force now seemed to be taking the subject more seriously.

“Shoplifting still happens but what we’re finding at the moment is that police are responding far quicker than they used to and, more importantly, they’re taking more to court,” he said.

He said there had been a meeting with the police and crime commissioner days after an Echo article on the subject.

“I’m very quick to chastise the police when they don’t respond but they seem to have had a change of heart and are seeing retail crime as important,” he added.

“We’re being kept in the loop where someone’s gone to court. We’re told what the outcome is and there have been a couple of custodial sentences as well.

“They don’t come out every time and I get that but it’s better than never coming out. More importantly they do now follow up almost immediately on the information we give them.”

Neighbourhood Superintendent Gemma Morris, of Dorset Police’s BCP policing area, said: “It is really welcome to hear positive feedback about our efforts to tackle shoplifting.

“We fully understand the impact that crime has on our local businesses and we are determined to reduce issues for our shopkeepers.

“In order to tackle shoplifting we will continue to target known offenders and share information and advice to businesses on what steps they can take to avoid becoming a victim of crime.”

She said the force worked with business improvement districts (BIDs) and councils on shoplifting and other problems.

“We also welcome the participation of members of the business community in the recent Business Crime Round Table event, which was initiated by the police and crime commissioner and attended by Dorset Police,” she added.

A multi-agency “problem solving group” in Poole involved the police, council, education services, BID and bus companies.

Dorset’s police and crime commissioner, David Sidwick, said: “I am delighted to hear that Tony Brown has noticed a difference in the way shoplifting is being dealt with by Dorset Police. It’s really heartening to have that kind of feedback from businesses as it shows that the priorities I have set out in my Police and Crime Plan are taking affect.”

He said there was “a lot of work” going on to tackle business crime.

“But there is still much more to do, including strengthening business and retail focussed watch schemes, such as Shop Watch and Hotel Watch, working with businesses to design out crime and to ensure that the best crime prevention advice is available to all businesses across Dorset,” he added.