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    Wholesalers demand comprehensive strategy to tackle crime in depots, distribution

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    A food and drink wholesalers’ body reiterated the call for definition of ‘retail worker’ to be extended to wholesalers and transit operators as well so that they too can be covered under proposed standalone offence for assaulting retail workers.

    Under tough new action to crack down on retail crime announced on April 10, assaulting a retail worker will be made a standalone criminal offence, sending a clear message that there will be tough consequences for this unacceptable behaviour. 

    Under new laws, perpetrators could be sent to prison for up to six months, receive an unlimited fine and be banned from going back to the shop where they committed their crimes, with Criminal Behaviour Orders barring them visiting specific premises. 

    Speaking at before the Home Affairs Select Committee on violence against retail workers, Lyndsey Cambridge, Head of Engagement, Federation of Wholesale Distributors (FWD), today (17) highlighted how the wholesale sector is uniquely vulnerable to crime.

    “In last three years, we have seen 30 per cent rise in crime, particularly violent crime. These can range from theft against retailers in cash and carries to ram raids in wholesale depots. One ram raid was really catastrophic as it costed the wholesaler half a million pound of goods.

    “Things in depots are of high value as well as easy to steal and easy to resell. It is definitely organised crime in our sector predominantly. Unlike retail stores, wholesale depots have goods in large quantities which make them even more vulnerable.

    “When goods come in the depots and when good are in transit are other vulnerable points where our workers get attacked. Lorries usually carry vast quantity of high-end spirits, tobacco, vapes and they are often get attacked at traffic lights.”

    “The biggest ask today is that the standalone offence should cover wholesalers and distributors too.”

    Federation of Wholesale Distributors stated on social media that it welcomes the opportunity to given evidence before the Home Affairs Select Committee on violence against retail workers. As a critical link in the food and drink supply chain, the wholesale sector is uniquely vulnerable to crime, from depots to distribution.

    FWD states, “The impact of Covid-19 and the cost-of-living crisis has exacerbated these challenges. Urgent and serious action is needed now.

    “We support the proposed standalone offence for assaulting retail workers but call on the Government’s definition of ‘retail worker’ to be extended to wholesalers and transit operators. This will ultimately allow for the safeguarding of retailers, wholesalers, and drivers not only at their workplaces but also during transit or related activities.

    “Crime in the wholesale sector is at a peak, demanding a comprehensive strategy that targets retail, wholesale, and distribution sectors simultaneously to strengthen the entire supply chain against attacks.

    “We hope that our evidence today has underscored the urgent need for action. Crime against wholesalers is not just a local issue; it reverberates across our communities and undermines the vital backbone of our economy. The impact is felt in depots, transit routes, and ultimately on the high streets.”

    Read more here.

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