Shop tags mince and sausages as concerns grow over shoplifting and anti-social behaviour in Plungington

Bosses at a Preston shop have been forced to put security tags on mince and ham, after being repeatedly targeted by shoplifters.

By Catherine Musgrove
Saturday, 22nd August 2020, 7:00 am

The move, taken by the Spar in Plungington Road, Plungington, sees food costing as little as £2 marked with yellow security devices that trigger an alarm by the door.

Baskets are also individually tagged to stop them being removed from the shop.

It comes after repeated shoplifting offences in the area and scenes of 'Bedlam' according to local Councillor Pav Akhtar.

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Tagged meat inside the chiller cabinet

He told a Preston Council meeting on Thursday: "I came here from the Spar shop in Plungington - which was a scene of Bedlam. There were ambulances and police here, a group of around 20 people; street drinkers chatting away to a group of people, the police drove past several times - and the shopkeeper was dealing with shoplifters in the store."

When a picture of a shelf of tagged items - including sliced ham, beefburgers, mince, chicken fillets and corned beef - was put on social media, dozens of shocked people commented.

One woman wrote: "That's an awful sign of the times".

Another wrote: "I've never seen that before. How times change!"

Outside the spar, where people are said to gather

When approached to discuss why the measures had been put in place, a spokesman for Lawrence Hunt & Co Ltd, which owns the shop, confirmed it was because of repeated theft.

On Thursday, a member of staff at the shop said: "It's because so much stuff gets stolen. If they can pinch it, they will sell it."

Another business owner in the area, who asked not to be named, said: "It's gone terrible around here.

"When it's nice weather people sit on the wall outside the Spar drinking, arguing, spitting and falling asleep.

"A sign of the times" according to dismayed shoppers

"It puts people coming into my shop. And after the weekend, there always so much rubbish to clean up outside."

They added: "I don't think the police are doing enough to tackle it. They come and look and nothing happens."

Councillor Akhtar added: "What’s being done to support our communities and local businesses who are really struggling with managing social distancing conditions? What precisely is our police service doing in communities like Plunginton, because social distancing simply isn't happening.

"There are six hardened drinkers and drug users on the street. Not only are they harassing people verbally, they are also spitting at people and they are physically manhandling them at the cash points. This is a serious public health risk and if we are serious, we have to respond to it - and the police are not responding to it."

Councillor Matthew Brown, leader of Preston City Council, said: "We’re looking at multi-agency working with the housing providers and probation service, but also very soon getting a multi-agency action plan together. The issue is very complex and there are potentially people who have been released into the community from prison, so we need a multi-agency approach which has been successful in other parts of Preston - we should have something to announce very soon."

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “We have done, and continue to do, a huge amount of work in the area to address the concerns which have been raised.

"We have carried out almost 20 warrants in the area in the last couple of months and arrested and charged a number of people with drug offences and we continue to work with our partners to address specific issues around areas like the Spar shop.

"We have engaged closely with our communities through leaflet drops, events with our mobile police station and online question and answer sessions and we will continue to let them know about the work we are doing but if anyone has concerns they should contact us on 101 or through our website.”

One initiative the council and police are looking to do is to remove the wall outside the Spar, to ‘design out’ some of the crime and anti-social behaviour.