The face of Paul McLoughlin (pictured) demonstrates the alarming rise in the number of crimes against store staff, revealed in a survey of Association of Convenience Store (ACS) members, which showed a 22% increase in incidences of physical violence in 12 months.

Paul needed eight stitches after being hit with a pistol while grappling a robber in his Londis store in Wheatley, Oxfordshire, last week. Although he advises his staff not intervene in a threatening situation he found his instincts took over. 

“I grabbed his arm to try to get the gun. It wasn’t until afterwards that I realised how dangerous it was,” he said. Now recovering, Paul has called on the government to get tougher on retail crime. “The police and ambulance services were excellent when they came after the robbery, but they need more resources,” he told C-Store. 

“Labour’s promise to be tough on crime hasn’t really been enforced. We need tougher penalties for offenders and more police presence.”

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Too often retail crime is wrongly dismissed as a victimless crime when it has a significant impact not only on the business and its owners, but on the wider community as well.” He called on the Conservative Retail Crime Commission to investigate sanctions for shop theft and the impact of crime in the community.

Philip Dunne MP, chairman of the Commission, addressed these concerns at the ACS Crime Prevention Forum held earlier this month.

He proposed scrapping early- release policies and encouraging the police to better use their search powers. “On-the-spot fines could be useful for first-time offenders, but there needs to be a wider use of community sentences to deal with persistent shop thieves,” he said.

The ACS survey of more than 2,700 members revealed that in the last quarter of 2008 there were 88 robberies, a 23% increase on the previous quarter, and 82 incidents of physical violence, 22% up on the same period in 2007.