UK shop violence and abuse jumps 50%

Violence and abuse against retail workers in the UK soared in the 12 months to September 2023, according to new figures.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said that the number of incidents rose to 1,300 per day across the period compared to 870 daily cases in the previous year.

The retail trade body said that the cost of theft to retailers went up to £1.8 billion from £953 million in the year ended September 2022.

The BRC’s annual crime survey shows that incidents, which include racial abuse, sexual harassment, physical assault, and threats with weapons, are now on a par with the levels seen during the pandemic, which the organisation says was a result of some people’s frustration with Covid safety measures.

Despite the total number of incidents climbing over the period, dissatisfaction with the police increased, with 60 per cent of respondents in the survey describing the police response to incidents as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said that criminals are being given a "free pass" to steal goods and abuse retail staff.

Many retailers in the UK want the government to introduce a standalone offence of assaulting, threatening, or abusing a retail worker.

“Despite retailers investing huge sums in crime prevention, violence and abuse against retail workers is climbing," said Dickinson. "With over 1,300 incidents every day, government can no longer ignore the plight of ordinary, hardworking retail colleagues.

"Teenagers taking on their first job, carers looking for part-time work, parents working around childcare. And while the violence can be over in a moment, the victims carry these experiences with them for a lifetime. And we all know the impact does not stop there – it affects their colleagues, friends, and the family our colleagues go home to. This is a crisis that demands action now."

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