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    Independent retailers call for urgent help amid rising crime levels

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    Independent retailers have written to policing minister Chris Philp calling for a government grant to be created to help them beef up their security systems amid a shoplifting epidemic.

    The letter from the Federation of Independent Retailers (the Fed) and the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) comes as latest Office of National Statistics data show that shoplifting increased by 24 per cent in England and Wales in the year to March 2023.

    While larger stores are rolling out more CCTV, offering workers body cameras and increasing the number of security guards that they have to better protect their staff from theft, attacks and abuse, smaller retailers are hampered by tighter margins and are unable to follow suit.

    Both the Fed and BIRA have welcomed the news that police forces have committed to investigating every theft and to follow every reasonable lead to combat crime but say their members will need access to high quality security measures, such as CCTV and panic buttons, which is something many of them can ill-afford.

    The letter said that a grant worth up to £1,500 per retailer would enable smaller shops to improve their security measures, which would hopefully deter crimes from being committed, but would also assist police forces in solving crimes and would better protect local communities.

    The Fed’s National President Muntazir Dipoti said, “Shop theft is not victimless. It blights the lives of independent retailers on a daily basis and has significant implications for a store’s viability. I am sure that every Fed member has been affected by crime at some point, and, sadly, many incidents of shoplifting are becoming increasingly violent.

    “With the cost-of-living crisis, we are seeing regular customers turning to shoplifting because they can’t afford to live.”

    “The burden of crime prevention shouldn’t fall on retailers’ shoulders.  Government intervention is crucial to safeguard retailers, particularly smaller shops.

    “Security measures are expensive to buy and install, and we as shop owners need support to protect ourselves, our staff and our livelihoods,” Dipoti added.

    The letter to the policing minister comes as The Fed launches its Safe, Secure, Supported campaign to highlight the impact that shop theft has on independent retailers and their communities.

    Dipoti added that currently many retailers failed to report shop theft because of poor police responses.

    “Retailers are disillusioned by the lack of police action when crimes are committed so they do not report them.

    “Tackling shop theft has to be given the energy and priority it deserves from the police and the justice system and independent retailers should be given financial support so they can invest in better-quality CCTV to protect them, their staff and their businesses,” he added.

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