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    Businesses call on police to act as retailers report record theft levels

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    A coalition of business groups and trade union USDAW have launched a new campaign calling on Police and Crime Commissioners to act on retail crime in their local areas, after new figures show record thefts against convenience retailers. 

    The Stop Shop Theft campaign, launched today (4) by groups including the Association of Convenience Stores, the British Retail Consortium and the British Independent Retail Association, calls on Police and Crime Commissioners to act in three key areas to help businesses report crime and get the support needed at a local level. The campaign calls on every PCC in England and Wales to do the following:

    • Commit to delivering the Retail Crime Action Plan in their areas
    • Tell businesses how they should report incidents of theft
    • Share the single point of contact for businesses in their force area 

    The campaign comes as new figures from the Association of Convenience Stores’ Voice of Local Shops Survey of over 1200 retailers reveal that its ‘Theft Index’ reached a new record high in November 2023. 38 per cent of independent retailers reported that levels of theft in their businesses have increased over the last year, compared to just 8 per cent of retailers who said that theft had decreased. This marks the highest net result, or theft index (+30) in the survey’s history, which has been tracking shop theft since 2012. The previous record was set in May of this year. 

     ACS chief executive James Lowman said, “These shocking figures show that shop theft is still getting worse for independent retailers across the UK, despite millions being invested in crime prevention and detection measures. Prolific offenders are stealing on a regular basis without fear of being caught because they know that the police are unlikely to be able to attend.”

    Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the BRC, said, “Shoplifting is not a victimless crime – it costs retailers, and ultimately customers, almost £1 billion a year, money that would be better used to reduce prices for everyone. More importantly, it is a major trigger for the abuse and assault of retail workers, of which there are over 850 incidents a day. Retailers are working hard, trying to tackle this issue, spending hundreds of millions on security staff, CCTV, security tags, and other anti-crime measures. We need the police to urgently give retail crime greater prioritisation.”

     Andrew Goodacre, Chief Executive of BIRA said, “Retail crime is having a detrimental impact on large and small retailers alike and is becoming worse. Very PCC in the UK must have retail crime on their agenda and work together in a cohesive way to address the problem. It is not just theft – it is also about the abuse experienced by hard working employees and the fact that high streets are less safe with the level of crime. Retail crime harms people, business owners and communities”

    The Retail Crime Action Plan, published by the National Police Chiefs Council in October, sets out a series of guidelines for the police on the following areas: 

    • Prioritising attendance at the scene of crimes where violence has been used
    • The use of facial recognition technology to check CCTV evidence against the Police National Database
    • Identifying ‘hot spot’ locations where additional patrols would be beneficial
    • Dealing with organised crime through the creation of a new dedicated intelligence team

    Lowman continued, “We need to see forces implementing the measures outlined in the recently published Retail Crime Action Plan, and we will continue to urge all Police and Crime Commissioners to do more to prioritise shop theft and other retail crime in their local plans.”

    Figures from the 2023 ACS Crime Report show that challenging shop thieves is one of the biggest triggers of abuse and violence in store.

    ACS is co-ordinating the ShopKind campaign with the Home Office and leading high street retailers, helping to remind customers of the importance of being kind to retail staff – especially during this very busy time for stores. ShopKind materials for retailers to use over the Christmas period are available to download here: https://nbcc.police.uk/business-support/shopkind/shopkind-webpage

    The Stop Shop Theft campaign website is available here: https://visualisation.polimapper.co.uk/?dataSetKey=police-action-on-retail-crime-2023&client=associationofconveniencestores

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