Retailers in London’s West End are calling for a greater police presence in the area amid multiple fold rise in mugging, pick-pocketing and shoplifting.
According to figures compiled by the Heart of London Business Alliance- industry group represents 600 retailers, restaurants and property owners- theft currently makes up around 60 per cent of crime in the area around Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square.
Ros Morgan, chief executive of the group, told The Telegraph, “Retail crime in the West End is not just a threat to businesses but to the entire community – and luxury goods are no exception.
“There was a significant spike in shoplifting and a rising number of thefts across the West End in 2023. We have long called for a greater police presence to deter criminal activities and instill a sense of security.”
Nickie Aiken, the MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, said criminals were not just aiming to steal from wealthy tourists but Londoners as well. She said the situation had worsened since the end of the pandemic, with criminals using electric bikes to snatch items from people.
She called for more action from police, saying, “The West End is a UK economic power house and it’s imperative that we stamp down on any rise in robbery and shoplifting.
“We must see more police on the street, particularly in crime hotspots to provide both reassurance and crime prevention. We do not want the West End to become a no-go zone for visitors or anyone.”
Meanwhile, Co-op reported record levels of crime in 2023 with more than one-third million incidents (44 per cent YOY increase). According to a new report launched on Wednesday (7), Co-op undercover (covert) guards detained 3,361 criminals in 2023. The convenience retailer has seen green shoots of improvement since the launch of the Retail Crime Action Plan – yet two-in-five criminals detained by trained security guards still walk away with Police failing to attend.
The convenience retailer saw over 1,325 physical assaults against store workers in 2023 (up 34 per cent YOY) - that is three or four colleagues attacked or assaulted every day. More than 40,000 incidents of anti-social behaviour and abuse (up 37 per cent) were reported in 2023.
Earlier this year, the retailer reported that Police failed to attend in nearly four-fifths (79 per cent) of incidents where a criminal had been detained – creating a dangerous, intimidating and threatening environment in communities. Since the introduction of the Retail Crime Action Plan, the non-attendance rate has improved to 38 per cent yet, with two-in-five detained criminals still walking away, it continues to send a message that this is a consequence-less crime.