This month ACS has offered a reward of up to £50,000 for information leading to the conviction of those responsible for the murder of retailer Nick Prasanna in Watford. This follows on from a similar initiative last year when we offered a reward to help catch the killer of Javaid Ali in Paisley. We offer these rewards because in the very rare circumstances when retailers lose their lives in the course of their work, the most constructive thing we can do is to help the police to catch those responsible. We hope this will make a difference in the police’s inquiries.
The vast majority of retailers, thankfully, never experience such a serious incident of crime against them or their staff, but anti-social behaviour, theft, vandalism and intimidation is unfortunately a feature of day to day retailing for many convenience store operators. That is why our campaign to ensure that shop theft is not downgraded in the Anti-Social Behaviour Bill is so important.
Specifically, the government is planning to discourage the use of the courts system to deal with theft to the value of £100 - £200. For convenience stores, most thefts would fall below this financial threshold, but the important thing is the message it sends – that shop theft is a secondary or unimportant crime. We argue that shop theft has real consequences and real victims. What’s more, the perpetrators are mostly repeat offenders fuelling a drugs habit, for whom a fixed penalty notice or caution will make no difference to their behaviour at all.
ACS is lobbying MPs on the Anti-Social Behaviour Bill, but I would urge retailers that are concerned about this to focus on local engagement. Talk to the PCSO who patrols your neighbourhood, and get to know the community groups who might be allies in dealing with anti-social behaviour, and you might be able to make your local area a safer place to shop and work.