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A staggering 83% of people working in convenience stores have been subject to verbal abuse over the last year, reveals the 2019 Crime Report, published today by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).

The report estimates that the crimes committed against the convenience sector cost an estimated £246 million in this period, equivalent to over £5,300 for every store in the UK.

“The financial implications of crime are clearly damaging for our sector, but we are most concerned about the impact of violence, abuse and aggression on people working in local shops,” said James Lowman, chief executive of the ACS.

“These people go to work to help their communities and to serve customers, but are being subjected to threats of violence, physical attacks and horrific incidents where their personal lives are being permanently affected.”

The report found shop theft as the single biggest trigger for violence and abuse. ACS estimates that there have been over a million incidents of theft over the last year, with retailers reporting that the vast majority of thefts committed against their business (79%) are by repeat offenders that aren’t being dealt with by local police forces.

Consequently, violence against staff, theft by customers and verbal abuse against staff are the three biggest concerns for retailers, the report adds.

It pegs the incidents of violence in the sector over the last twelve months at around 10,000. Where a weapon was present, knife (68% of incidents) was the most commonly used.

The report also shows that there is a clear link between retailers just doing their jobs by upholding the law, and being subject to abuse. Enforcing age restrictions, for example refusing a sale to someone without ID, and refusing to serve drunks follow as the second and third-most triggers for aggressive or abusive behaviour, after challenging shop thieves.

“There is no excuse for abusive behaviour, and more needs to be done to ensure that offenders are prosecuted with the full force of the law,” Lowman added.