16 July 2024, 08:10
By Furniture News Oct 04, 2023

Retailers demand action as crime soars, reports BRC

A total of 86 retail leaders have signed a letter to Home Secretary Suella Braverman demanding action over rising rates of retail crime, reports the British Retail Consortium (BRC), whose 2023 crime survey showed that incidents of violence and abuse towards retail staff had almost doubled on pre-pandemic levels, to 867 incidents every day in 2021/22.

It also put the scale of retail theft at £953m, despite over £700m in crime prevention spending by retailers. This meant the total cost of retail crime stood at £1.76b for the 12-month period to April. 

A separate BRC survey of members in 2023 found that levels of shoplifting in 10 major cities had risen by an average of +27%, not to mention the cascade of recent press stories detailing the wave of theft and violence currently impacting shops across the UK. 

Through the BRC, the retail industry is making two demands of Government: to create a standalone offence of assaulting or abusing a retail worker, with tougher sentences for offenders – this would act as a deterrent and provide a clear message that parliament will not tolerate this behaviour, and would also require police forces to record all incidents of retail crime, allowing for better allocation of resources to the issue; and greater prioritisation of retail crime by police forces across the UK (for one major retailer, the police's own data shows that they failed to respond to 73% of serious retail crimes that were reported, and 44% of retailers in the BRC’s annual crime survey rated the police response as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’). 

BRC CEO Helen Dickinson says: “It is vital that action is taken before the scourge of retail crime gets any worse. We are seeing organised gangs threatening staff with weapons and emptying stores. We are seeing violence against colleagues who are doing their job and asking for age verification. We are seeing a torrent of abuse aimed at hardworking shop staff. It’s simply unacceptable – no-one should have to go to work fearing for their safety. 

“It’s time the Government put their words into action. We need to see a standalone offence for assaulting or abusing a retail worker – as exists in Scotland. We need Government to stand with the millions of retail workers who kept us safe and fed during the pandemic – and support them, as those workers supported us.”

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