Neil McFarlane’s & Michael Hoare, founders, SaferGems

Sometimes it really is a case of two heads being better than one. And when those two minds in question belonged to jewellery industry stalwarts Michael Hoare, chief executive of the National Association of Goldsmiths, and Neil McFarlane, managing director at jewellery insurance specialist TH March, it led to a very important initiative indeed, SaferGems.

The scheme fights jewellery crime by directly linking all UK police forces with one another, coordinating data of thefts and alerting NAG and BJA members and TH March customers when a robbery does take place. The result of this trailblazing scheme has been improved criminal identification and increased convictions.

“The police were always very supportive of the thinking behind SaferGems as they could see the obvious benefits a national crime reporting scheme could provide,” explains Neil. “With police resources becoming even more stretched the link SaferGems provides across the UK jewellery trade is even greater.”

While the industry might have been sceptical about the scheme at first, the duo’s hard work is now bearing fruit. “Probably the most significant development this year has been the British Jewellers’ Association becoming actively involved within SaferGems as an affiliate member,” says Neil.

Michael adds that it has been hard for the remaining sceptics to argue with the cold, hard facts. “I think the statistics prove that retailers value the system, with 369 incidents recorded in the first six months of 2011 against 293 for the same period last year.”

But the duo – who say they work well together thanks to “a belief in the cause and a shared sense of humour” – say that none of their successes to date with SaferGems would have been possible without the hard work of their teams and the collaboration of the large numbers of individuals in the trade who share their information for the benefit of others. “Without them SaferGems would grind to a halt,” says Neil, adding that a key strategy for the group is now to encourage retailers to report not just actual crimes but all instances of suspicious activity.

Looking ahead SaferGems will host its first Retail Security Conference this year focused on loss prevention, something that Michael hopes will become an annual event on the industry calendar.