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    Northern Ireland retailers release report to highlight scale of crime

    Glyn Roberts (Retail NI), Naomi Long MLA (Justice Minister), DCC Chris Todd (PSNI), Paddy Murney (Retail NI Chair). Image from Retail NI

    Following an extensive survey of its members, Retail NI on Tuesday (23) launched a comprehensive action plan to tackle crime against its members at the NI Assembly. 

    The report entitled ‘Working Together includes the results of a survey of over 300 Retail NI members in local villages, towns, and cities from all over Northern Ireland.

    It also includes 17 recommendations for the Northern Ireland Executive & Police Service. Survey results of Retail NI members showed that 67 per cent of retail staff are victim of violence and threats while 51 per cent have staff who have left did so because of assault and verbal abuse.

    A staggering 91 per cent have experienced shoplifting on a regular basis while a good majority (80 per cent) have never had any contact with Police and Community Safety Partnerships (PCSP) with 35 per cent of those surveyed did not even know what a PCSP was.

    The report added that 72 per cent are pleased with police response but 91 per cent of those responded were disappointed with follow up.

    Retail NI Chief Executives Glyn Roberts said, “Our report highlights the huge impact that crime is having on our members business, their staff, and the wider economy. It is a startling statistic that 67 per cent of those surveyed reported that their staff have been victims of assault and threats and 51 per cent were losing staff as a result.

    “Our members are extremely frustrated with the criminal justice system and feel let down by the punishments, or the lack of, for offenders. Confidence building measures are urgently needed and visible action taken against those who are found guilty of theft and intimate shop staff.

    “While we highlight how serious this problem is, our focus is on solutions.  We want to reinforce the message that a more effective partnership between business, police, Department of Justice, and the public is the only way in which we can improve this situation.

    “Northern Ireland is now the only part of the UK not to have assault of shop workers as a specific criminal offence.  This is top of our list of priorities for the Justice Minister to help deter criminals and to protect shop staff.

    “Retail NI also want to see the PSNI Neighbourhood Teams properly funded and resourced to ensure our town and city centres are safe places for staff and shoppers alike.

    “Technology has key role to play, and we want to see enhanced rate relief for independent retailers who invest in instore systems such as facial recognition.”

    The Justice Minister Naomi Long and Deputy Chief Constable Chris Todd were keynote speakers at the event.

    Long said, I welcome this report, which provides an opportunity for us all to take stock, review and consider the views and the range of issues facing business owners and staff in our society.

     “The Department of Justice is fully committed to working with all partners, including businesses, the community and voluntary sector, PSNI, as well as other Departments and organisations to ensure that we have a community where we all feel safe to live and work.

     “I condemn all abuse and violence directed at any frontline workers. No-one should face mistreatment whilst doing their job and serving the public and such attacks are wholly unacceptable and must not be tolerated. Such abuse or violence can be prosecuted under existing laws designed to protect any member of the public from harm. The introduction of further protections for these workers is something to which I am giving further consideration.”

    Todd said, “This report provides valuable focus to our ongoing work to address the impact of crime on our business community. We recognise this impact can be severe and, as a Service, we dedicate considerable effort to working with local businesses and partner organisations to tackle retail-related crime.

    “The recommendations of this report will be considered in line with our existing proactive work on business crime which includes Safer Business Action Days and our first-in-the-UK Safe Shop staff-training initiative. However, our difficult funding environment is having a very real impact on the scope of our work including our neighbourhood policing teams. And – although the majority of those surveyed are satisfied with police response and Northern Ireland’s crime rates compare favourably to the rest of the UK – sustaining this level of focus will be increasingly challenging unless the Police Service is properly and sustainably funded.

    “Working Together is key; partnership working is a resource multiplier. Within the wider Business Crime Partnership, we will continue working to ensure that Northern Ireland remains a safe, attractive and prosperous place to live and do business.”

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