Bournemouth police 'too busy' to arrest boy with drugs

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image captionTony Brown said the problem was affecting retailers throughout the town centre

A teenager caught shoplifting with a rucksack full of drugs was released by security staff because police were too busy to attend, it has been claimed.

The boy is just one of scores of thieves who have been let go by Beales department store in Bournemouth, according to the company's owner.

Tony Brown said the police's "disregard to shoplifting" was "shocking".

Dorset Police said its attendance was "prioritised based on an assessment of threat, risk, harm and vulnerability".

Mr Brown, who is also Beales' CEO, said the 16-year-old was caught earlier this month with "a significant amount of class A drugs and paraphernalia to cut and distribute those drugs".

He said: "My concern is we had to release him to what we believed was his guardian. We did not know who we were releasing him to but what could we do? We kept the drugs and handed them to police."

'Proper crime'

Mr Brown, who previously spoke to the Bournemouth Echo about the problems, said staff had detained "well over 100 people" in the last year - with some stealing £700-worth of stock at a time - but police were not playing their part.

He said: "This is proper crime - this isn't someone stealing pick-and-mix from Woolworths. If police search their homes, they will have copious amounts of stock that they have stolen everywhere else."

Supt Gavin Dudfield of Dorset Police said: "We are committed to investigating all reported offences of shoplifting and where possible we will attend incidents where alleged offenders have been detained at location.

"Our attendance will be prioritised based on an assessment of threat, risk, harm and vulnerability in the context of all matters the force is responding to at that particular time.

"Regardless of the fact the alleged offenders were not arrested at the scene, we have still been provided with their details and will be able to progress our enquiries."

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