Call for harsher penalities for retail crime

In the aftermath of the riots and violence that swept England, the battle for harsher penalties for retail crime begins, and you can play your part

The recent riots and looting across UK cities have seen livelihoods destroyed, retailers attacked while protecting their businesses, and widespread destruction within local communities.

While insurance may cover the loss of stock and disruption to trade, in many cases the damage runs a lot deeper than that. And the fact that the rioters were so willing to target community shops run by local people shows that convenience stores are seen as a soft option by criminals. Despite the fact that these are the businesses that service the local community, staying open all night to ensure that their customers will never run short of supplies, we have seen sickening acts carried out against hard-working retailers who are left picking up the pieces.

What we want 

Sentences for crimes against shopworkers to be similar to those against other public service workers 

A more visible police presence on the streets 

A commitment to investigate all crimes that were previously deemed low-level, such as shoplifting and anti-social behaviour 

What we are going to do 

Set up an e-petition on the directgov website calling for tougher sanctions against criminals who attack stores serving the community


Write to MPs in the affected areas asking for their support 

What you can do
Sign our e-petition calling for similar penalties for attacks on shopworkers to those for crimes against public servants such as nurses and police officers. For more details see next week’s issue or check online at or

Contact your local police force to arrange a meeting with your community crime prevention officer to see how they can help you, and if there’s anything you can do to support them 

Report all incidents of crime, no matter how insignificant they seem, to the police. The authorities can act on crimes only if they are reported.

Jeya Kumar of Best Foods in Croydon is still reeling from the attack on his store that saw of £30,000-worth of stock stolen. “We are still scared any time we see a group of people together,” he says.

The attack on his store turned personal, too, when rioters got into the flat above, stealing two laptops. However Jeya is refusing to let mob rule beat him. “We’re shaken, but we have to open for the community,” he comments.

Siva Kandiah’s Hackney store was also looted, with £10,000-worth of stock stolen. His customers have rallied around, but the rebuilding process will take some time. “Everything was taken,” says Siva. “It will take a while, but I will re-open. I will not let these people beat me.”

Home Secretary Theresa May and Business Secretary Vince Cable have offered assurances that those responsible for the rioting and looting will be punished accordingly, but there is still a major flaw in a justice system which fails to recognise that a crime against a shopworker is in effect a crime against the community itself. Given the level of service independent retailers provide to communities in what are often challenging conditions, Convenience Store is calling for crimes against shopworkers to be given similar sentences to those for crimes against public service workers such as police officers and nurses.

This week we are setting up an e-petition to raise this argument with the government, and we urge all retailers, staff, their families and their customers to sign it. Under new government rules, any e-petition that receives 100,000 signatures or more has to be debated in Parliament.

With the shocking events of last week still fresh in the nation’s memory, retailers have an opportunity to make their voices heard when it comes to crime and help to convince the authorities to hand down harsher sentences against those who think convenience stores are soft targets.