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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Shocking statistics reaffirm Britain’s retail crime crisis

Violence and abuse against retail workers soared last year, with latest figures from the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) crime survey revealing the number of incidents rose to 1,300 per day in 2022/23 from almost 870 per day the year before.

This increase comes despite retailers investing heavily in crime prevention, spending £1.2bn on measures such as CCTV, increased security personnel, and body worn cameras, up from £722m the previous year. The cost of theft to retailers went up to £1.8bn from £953m the previous year, meaning the total cost of crime to retailers stood at £3.3bn – double the previous year.

The BRC’s annual crime survey highlights the scale of violence and abuse faced by people working in retail. 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, when staff bore the brunt of some people’s frustration with Covid safety measures.

While the total number of incidents climbed, dissatisfaction with the police increased, with 60% of respondents describing the police response to incidents as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.

Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Despite retailers investing huge sums in crime prevention, violence and abuse against retail workers is climbing. 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.

Several weeks ago, Sainsbury’s boss Simon Roberts confirmed he’d been working with both government and fellow retail heads on a solution to the ongoing crisis. He told the Mail on Sunday he supported proposed changes in the law to protect shop workers after abuse and physical attacks “escalated through last year”.

He added: “I see a report every day on the number of violent incidents and assaults on our people…any situation where a human being feels threatened or not safe – we need to put the strength of the law behind that.”

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