There's never been a more important time to press home the seriousness of retail crime. Rich Airey reports

Now entering its fifth year, Convenience Store's Zero Tolerance campaign has a more vital role to play than ever. With overcrowded prisons and an array of schemes to tackle anti-social behaviour, the general public might think the government and other authorities are doing all they can to combat the criminal activities retailers have to endure, often on a daily basis.
But speak to retailers themselves and they'll often paint a very
different picture and call for the authorities to treat their plight more seriously.
Our Zero Tolerance campaign looks to hammer home the importance of tackling and preventing this crime. It not only highlights the necessity of security equipment to guard against the bad guys, but showcases as best practice the wide range of initiatives retailers and the communities they serve have introduced across the UK.
While the work of the campaign is far from over, it has drawn considerable attention since its introduction in 2002. The campaign has grown in profile and received the backing of two Home Office ministers and
influential MPs.
The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has also added its weight to the campaign from its inception. ACS chief executive James Lowman explains: "The Zero Tolerance campaign is important to highlight the seriousness and effect of shop theft and crime against retailers. The government needs to take the issue of retail crime seriously. Police, prosecutors and retailers must work together to prevent criminal behaviour. Only then will the whole community see the benefits."
He adds: "The financial and personal impact of crime is the main day-to-day operational concern of many local shops throughout the country. Although the government has made tackling anti-social behaviour an important part of its crime agenda it is not doing enough to address the problems that retailers face. The misuse of Penalty Notices for Disorder (PNDs) and proposals to remove the threat of custodial sentences are working against its crime agenda.


Retail crime stats

Yearly losses through retail crime: £1.43bn
Shoplifting up 70% since 2000
Total losses from shoplifting: £767m
15% of small businesses (SMEs) have been forced to close for a period of time because of crime
13% of SMEs have reported an increase in violent robbery
20% of SMEs believe it is likely or very likely they will lose staff as a result of crime, violence or anti-social behaviour.
13% of SMEs have had to let staff take time off as a result of a criminal incident
(Source: British Retail Consortium 2006 Retail Crime Survey).

How to get involved...

We need your help to push home our Zero Tolerance message. With first-hand accounts of how individual retailers and their communities are working to combat crime, we can make the authorities sit up and listen.
We'd like to hear from you if you're doing something in particular to tackle crime. It can be something you've decided to do off your own back or to promote your involvement in a local initiative. Just get in touch with our editorial team. Call Rich Airey on 01293 610220 or write to him at C-Store, William Reed Publishing, Broadfield Park, Crawley, West Sussex, RH11 9RT or email