Wholesalers have come together to call on the Government to ensure the sector is included in the forthcoming Crime Bill.
In a letter to the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman MP, James Bielby, Chief Executive of the FWD wrote, “The food and drink wholesale sector in the UK is integral to the operation of 72,000 retailers and 350,000 caterers, the majority of which are small businesses.
“With approximately £10 billion-worth of trade passing through Cash-and-Carry depots, it has become commonplace for personal belongings and purchases, including bags of tobacco worth up to £5,000 to be stolen from customers in cash and carry car parks and then sold on the unrestricted black market.” There has also been an increase in thefts of tobacco from wholesale vehicles in transit, with limited police response.
FWD says that the loss of these high-value items is costing legitimate wholesale business and the Exchequer and that more support is needed from the police. Wholesalers have played their part by investing in crime prevention measures and in some cases, criminals have been caught on CCTV, yet cases are often unpursued by the police.
“Many thefts potentially endanger our members, their employees, and customers,” Mr Bielby says. Incorporating wholesale in the Crime Bill will help support both individuals and businesses.
As part of its ongoing commitment to support its wholesale members, FWD’s crime reporting system collates incidents to better monitor the rate and severity of these crimes. This follows a recent crime survey by FWD where 100 per cent of wholesalers surveyed, representing 80 per cent of the wholesale industry, identified crime as one of their foremost concerns, primarily attributed to inadequate police responsiveness.
FWD also convenes a Crime Forum for members to discuss the impact of rising cases of wholesale crime.
FWD says that improved police prioritisation of thefts at cash and carry premises is vital, as is continued funding for law enforcement measures in this area. Proposed age restrictions on the purchase of tobacco could lead to increased crimes against wholesalers, driving black market sales to supply customers who are too young to buy tobacco legally.
“FWD welcomes the launch of the Retail Crime Action Plan and the Government’s plans to introduce a Crime Bill in the King’s speech,” Bielby says. “However, it is vital for the wholesale industry to be considered and represented in these plans to tackle crime.