New methods of reporting incidents make it simpler than ever for store owners to highlight the struggle they face with business crime

The past 12 months have brought a new level of awareness to the plight of convenience store retailers across the UK. The riots in August last year and increased media coverage of the numerous attacks on shopworkers have highlighted the threat of violence that retailers on our high streets face on a daily basis.

The sickening murder of Sri Lankan shopworker Mahesh Wickramasinga in Liverpool and the haunting image of brutalised store owner David Basrai in Sunderland are just two of many stories of violence to hit the headlines in 2011.

With a new year beginning it’s time to make sure the next 12 months don’t hold more of the same, and Convenience Store is urging retailers and their staff to work together to curb crimes against business.

In fact, the year looks like it will start on a positive note as the Home Office plans to complete its national rollout of the non-emergency crime reporting number by the end of January. Initially trialled in several boroughs late last year, 101 will be the number to call if retailers don’t feel a crime warrants an immediate police presence, or if you are wary of clogging up the emergency helplines.

National Business Crime Forum (NBCF) chairman Parminder Singh says that retailers need to make use of resources such as these. “There has been extensive work between the NBCF and the Home Office to introduce the 101 non-emergency number and it needs to be used by all retailers affected by crime,” he says. “Crimes against businesses are not being reported properly and this means the police can’t do anything about them. It also means that true statistics about the level of crime in an area aren’t being recorded.”

He urges retailers to pick up the phone no matter what. “It doesn’t matter how little the amount stolen may be, if it goes unreported, the thieves will come back again as they know they can get away with it and it could easily escalate into something worse,” Parminder explains. “By reporting everything that goes on in the store, you maintain a dialogue with your local police force and they know the problems you are experiencing.”

If you’re lucky enough to have had little experience of crime in your store, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be prepared anyway. The Association of Convenience Stores and the British Retail Consortium have together created a resource website,, that includes downloadable materials and case studies of what retailers are doing to protect their businesses.

Retailers can also play their part by going online to sign Convenience Store’s e-petition calling for harsher penalties for crimes against shopworkers. It needs 100,000 signatures for the e-petition to be debated in parliament, so we urge all retailers to get just five signatures each and help tackle this serious issue. ■