100 UK retailers urge police to prioritise retail crime

More than 100 retail bosses from UK retailers, including Aldi, Amazon UK, Marks & Spencer, and Sainsbury’s, have called on British police and crime commissioners to make retail crime a priority.

In a letter, the retailers expressed increasing concern about the rising levels of violence, abuse, and anti-social behaviour across their operations.

It said that the rise in retail crime is partly linked to tackling shoplifting which "pushes up the cost of operating" and results in higher prices for consumers.

The letter, which is also signed by Asda, B&Q, Tesco, and John Lewis, urges the police to work with local businesses to investigate ways to make reporting simpler, push their local forces to investigate all reports of violence and abuse against retail workers, and monitor how new sentencing guidelines are used.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said that while recently enacted law has increased the penalties for assaulting a retail worker, this will only have an impact if police successfully investigate and prosecute these incidents.

Last year the House of Lords passed the Government’s amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

The amendment says that the courts must treat assaults committed against a person providing a public service, performing a public duty, or providing services to the public, as an aggravating factor.

Research from the BRC found that violence and abuse against retail workers tripled over the pandemic, according to research by the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

Incidents rose from 455 per day in 2019/20 to 1,301 in 2020/21 according to the survey results.

“I am proud of the incredible work done by our retail colleagues,” said Dickinson. “They were among the ‘hidden heroes’ of the pandemic; working tirelessly to keep the nation fed, clothed and with access to the goods we wanted.

“But every incident against a retail worker is one too many. Retailers are going above and beyond to keep their colleagues and customers safe, hiring in-store security teams, training staff on de-escalation, and investing in CCTV and body worn cameras.”

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