Violence and abuse against retail workers ‘triples’ over the pandemic

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.

Of the 1,301 incidents every single day, 125 were violent.

Despite incidents of violence and abuse soaring, only 4 per cent of incidents resulted in a prosecution according to the BRC, and three-in-five respondents described the police response to incidents as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.

The research also covered the financial costs of retail crime.

The total cost of retail crime stands at £1.5 billion according to the BRC, with £663 million lost to customer theft and £715 million spent on crime prevention.

The BRC highlighted that while crime prevention spending is critical to reduce losses and protect colleagues, it contributes to higher prices for customers by pushing up retailers’ operating costs.

Earlier this year the UK Government introduced an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which created a statutory aggravating factor to assaults committed against those “providing a public service or performing a public duty”, following extensive BRC lobbying on the issue.

“The BRC will now work with Police and Crime Commissioners across England and Wales to raise awareness of the new aggravated offence and to advocate for retail crime having a higher priority in local policing strategies,” said a BRC spokesperson. “Retailers also need to play their part by ensuring that more of these incidents are reported, so that the police have a true picture of the violence and abuse faced by retail workers.”

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