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    ‘Real action’ needed to deter criminals: Co-op

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    Co-op boss is calling on the government to take more action to tackle retail crime amid a warning it has reached record levels as criminal gangs are operating “exempt from consequences” after its latest data showed shocking numbers.

    The latest data by Co-op shows nearly 3,000 occasions this year where security teams detained serious offenders in its stores, the police failed to show up almost four-fifths (76 per cent) of the time, leading to a “dangerous pressure cooker” environment that puts store workers and communities at risk.

    Matt Hood, the Co-op managing director, said, “We are pleased that the serious issue of retail crime, which impacts our communities so dramatically, has been acknowledged, and that police chiefs have committed to attend incidents where the offender is detained.

    “It is a welcome and reassuring move, which should complement the £200 million we have invested in colleague and store safety.

    “But we urgently need to see it in action in our stores, so the desperate calls to the police from my frontline colleagues are responded to and the criminals start to realise there are real consequences to their actions.”

    At the start of Respect for Shopworkers Week, Co-op said it has experienced almost 300,000 incidents of shoplifting, abuse, violence and anti-social behaviour this year (up 43 per cent YOY) – around 1,000 incidents every day across its 2,400 stores. The convenience retailer has seen over 1,130 physical assaults (up 35 per cent YOY) against store workers, and more than 36,000 incidents (up 39 per cent) of anti-social behaviour and abuse.

    There have been more than 1,130 physical assaults against store workers, and more than 36,000 incidents of antisocial behaviour and abuse.

    Co-op has highlighted that where serious incidents are prioritised, and clear cooperation with the police exists, it is a solvable issue. Forces such as Nottinghamshire, Essex and Sussex have, this year, removed 56 prolific offenders off the streets, with a combined 26 years of custodial sentences, said Co-op.

    This week sees the launch of USDAW’s annual Respect for Shop Workers week, a cause which has never seemed so pertinent and relevant. Co-op is hosting over 50 MP’s and a number of PCCs into their stores across the UK this week, to really bring home the impact retail crime has on their store colleagues every single day.

    This week sees the launch of USDAW’s annual Respect for Shop Workers week, a cause which has never seemed so pertinent and relevant. Co-op is hosting over 50 MP’s and a number of PCCs into their stores across the UK this week, to really bring home the impact retail crime has on their store colleagues every single day.

    Paddy Lillis, general secretary of the Usdaw union, said, “These Co-op findings on police responses are extremely worrying and need to be addressed, because there is an epidemic of shoplifting that too often triggers abuse of shopworkers.

    “We are concerned that successive government policies give the impression that theft from shops has effectively been decriminalised.

    “Underfunding of the police, with too few uniformed officers patrolling our communities; fixed-penalty notices for thefts under £200, leading to too few of these crimes being investigated and prosecuted, and the recent announcement that fewer ‘low-level offenders’ will be sent to prison.

    “Our members are not only in fear of being a victim of crime, they are distressed that too few criminals are being caught and punished. That is why we are jointly calling for a protection of workers law, a standalone offence of assaulting or abusing a worker serving the public.”

    Co-op has invested more than £200M over recent years in colleague and store safety and security, including the latest CCTV; body-worn cameras – capturing real time audio and visual footage at the touch of a button and, dummy (or empty) packaging to deter looting and bulk-theft. The retailer also uses covert (undercover) and non-covert guarding. With crime a flashpoint for violence, abuse and attacks on shopworkers, only specially trained security operatives detain criminals.

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