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    Scale of crime against local shops highlighted to Home Affairs Select Committee

    Photo: iStock

    Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) today (17) has given evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee, highlighting the human impact of crime on local shops and the challenges retailers face when reporting crime to the police.

    The Home Affairs Select Committee is taking evidence from the retail sector and police forces as part of its inquiry into violence and abuse against retail workers. The evidence session follows a report published by the Committee in 2021 which found that ‘the policing response to rising crime is failing to match the rising tide of violence and abuse against shop workers.’

    Figures from the 2024 ACS Crime Report show that there have been over 76,000 incidents of violence recorded in the convenience sector over the last year, and over 5.6 million incidents of theft. The top three triggers for abuse in stores were reported as challenging thieves, enforcing age restricted sales policies, and refusing to serve customers that are intoxicated.  

    Speaking during the session, ACS Government Relations Director Edward Woodall said, “The biggest driver of the rise in violence and abuse is because we’re seeing increased levels of shop theft, being committed by prolific offenders that often have other issues like addiction that are fuelling those crimes. As a sector, we’ve made £339m of investment in crime prevention measures in stores, much of which is designed to help colleagues feel supported both in store and after an incident occurs, and which is ultimately designed to stop those incidents occurring in the future.”

    During the session, Woodall also highlighted the work that ACS and others in the retail sector have been doing with the Home Office, the National Business Crime Centre, Police and Crime Commissioners and local forces to improve the consistency of responses to incidents of theft and violence, as well as removing barriers to providing evidence to police when an incident occurs.

    Woodall continued, “Our main recommendation to make a difference going forward is to ensure that when Police and Crime Plans are published by Police and Crime Commissioners, that those plans include commitments on retail crime and detail on how local forces are going to be delivering the measures set out in the Retail Crime Action Plan.”

    ACS is campaigning to get all Police and Crime Commissioners to provide important information about their forces’ response to shop theft. This includes providing detail on how retailers can submit evidence, who the single point of contact is for retail crime, and how retail crime is being prioritised in forces’ local plans.

    More information on the campaign is available here: https://visualisation.polimapper.co.uk/?dataSetKey=police-action-on-retail-crime-2023&client=associationofconveniencestores

    ACS works with the Home Office and leading high street retailers on the ShopKind campaign, which encourages customers to respect shopworkers. More information about Shopkind and how to get involved with the campaign is available here: https://nbcc.police.uk/business-support/shopkind

    The full panel that provided evidence to the committee on behalf of the retail and wholesale sector was Edward Woodall (Association of Convenience Stores), Paul Gerrard (Co-operative), Lyndsey Cambridge (Federation of Wholesale Distributors) and Joanne Cairns (Union of Shop, Distributed and Allied Workers). The session was followed by a panel representing the police, including evidence from Superintendent Patrick Holdaway (National Business Crime Centre), Chief Superintendent Alex Goss (National Police Chiefs Council) and Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman (National Police Chiefs Council).

    The evidence session is available to watch on Parliament TV here

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