We are currently experiencing network problems with the desktop version of Police Oracle. We hope to have these resolved as soon as possible.

Retail crime tops £1.5bn as staff warn attacks will worsen

Retail crime has cost high street firms £1.5bn last year, new data revealed.

Retailers have urged forces to make full use of legislation to reduce attacks on shop staff.

The British Retail Consortium revealed the cost for the financial year in tackling crime had topped £663m lost due to customer theft and £715m spent on crime prevention.

And in a report it described as “grim reading”, the group said assaults on staff had surged to 1,301 each day in the year to March 2021, from 455 per day a year earlier.

It called for forces in England, Wales and Scotland to make use of the specific offence of committing violence against retail staff.

And the union representing retail workers warned the cost of living crisis means the violence will only get worse.

While incidents of violence and abuse soared, only 4% of incidents resulted in a prosecution, the BRC said.

Earlier this year the government introduced an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which created a statutory aggravating factor to assaults committed against workers “providing a public service or performing a public duty”.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of BRC, said: “It is vital that the amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill helps to deter perpetrators, but this will require the police to take action and improve their response to incidents.”

“These figures make particularly grim reading as they came at the height of the pandemic when the ‘hidden heroes’ of retail were working tirelessly to look after customers, keep shelves stocked and ensure orders were fulfilled.”

The shop workers union said staff were only reporting a fraction of offences.

Paddy Lillis Usdaw General Secretary says:  Our research found that 9 in 10 retail workers suffered abuse from customers, with far too many experiencing threats and violence. So, it is extremely worrying that nearly two-thirds said they were not confident that reporting these issues will make any difference.

“As the cost of living crisis bites things could get worse. We know from previous experience that when things get tough, shoplifting goes up, which is a concern for our members as it can be a further trigger for violence and abuse.”

It comes just days after the new HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Andy Cooke, said officers should think twice about how they deal with shoplifters.

Police Oracle understands that key figures in the retail and security industries are set to meet with policing leads on retail crime and the CCTV Commissioner to look at what further work can be done.

The Police and Crime Commissioner retail lead Katy Bourne is part of the response and has backed an online campaign to change behaviour among customers.

She said; “It’s estimated that every day, over 400 shopworkers face verbal or physical abuse whilst carrying out their duties in store. This cannot be tolerated and a conscious effort needs to be made to show kindness and respect.”

Shop workers want forces and the courts to work together.

Paddy Lillis said: “The government must provide the co-ordination needed to ensure that retail employers, police and the courts work together to make stores safe places for our members to work and for customers to shop.”

Leave a Comment
In Other News
Call for compassion for shoplifters rebuffed by PCCs
Innovation fund proposed to develop out of court disposal schemes
Policing by consent 'held up well' during the pandemic
More News