The shocking, but not entirely surprising, findings of our mini survey of c-store operators is that practically every single one has been a recent victim of crime. And in nearly half of cases, the offence has included the threat of violence, if not actual physical force.
Crime in a c-store is not a new phenomenon, but in recent months retailers have noticed a distinct reduction in the level of police response. Whereas once they were quick to attend, now they are often tardy. And where they were tardy before, now the response is often missing altogether.
The background to this is well-known and not entirely of the police’s own making. Funding has been cut, which means a reduction in personnel. And those staff that remain are increasingly being tasked to get to grips with new forms of criminality such as cyber crime and child protection. I believe everyone sympathises with the dilemma the police face, but the net result is that crime in the convenience sector is becoming more common.
MPs have now recognised that police response has been weakened as a result of budget cuts, so hopefully this will be the first step in addressing the problem in future. Local shops are not simply there as money-making exercises that can sustain losses as an occupational hazard, they are community amenities that feed, sustain and employ local people, and it is in everybody’s interests that they are kept safe.