MPs have supported a parliamentary call for the government to tackle shop theft and recognise the seriousness of the crime.
Ruth George MP, and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group, has submitted an Early Day Motion (EDM) on shop theft to raise awareness of an issue that affects a large number of convenience retailers.
The EDM has received cross-party support from 15 MPs to date, gaining signatures from members of the Labour Party, Conservative Party, SNP, Plaid Cymru, Liberal Democrats and the DUP.
The motion document cited research from the Centre for Social Justice think tank which estimates that 38 million incidents of shop theft took place in 2017, costing £6.3bn and impacting on retailers and their staff. It also seeks greater involvement from police and crime commissioners (PCCs).
EDMs are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons which allow MPs to draw attention to a particular issue.
The latest data from the Office for National Statistics, the Home Office’s Commercial Victimisation survey, the Association of Convenience Stores and the British Retail Consortium shows that the volume of shop theft is increasing
Commenting on the motion, Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) chief executive James Lowman said: “We welcome the support from MPs across the house in recognising the serious nature of shop theft and the impact that it has on retailers, their staff and the wider community. Shop theft needs to be taken seriously throughout the justice system, from the initial response to incidents when they occur to effective penalties and deterrents against reoffending.
”Police and Crime Commissioners are a key part of this system, so it’s essential that they all have shop theft and business crime on their agenda. We encourage all retailers to write to their PCCs and urge them to sign our pledge.”
Earlier this month, the ACS launched a pledge to encourage PCCs to confront shop theft re-offending and deal with prolific drug-dependent criminals and organised gangs that target retailers.
Figures from the 2018 ACS Crime Report show that theft alone costs each convenience store in the UK an average of more than £1,700 a year, with retailers fearing that incidents of theft are the main trigger for abuse of staff in stores. The report also estimates that almost a million incidents of shop theft were made against the convenience sector last year.
The EDM (Early Day Motion 1415) states: “That this House notes with concern new research from the report of the Centre for Social Justice, entitled Desperate for a Fix, which estimates that there were 38 million incidents of shop theft in 2017 costing £6.3 billion which has considerable impact on retailers and their staff; further notes the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, the Home Office’s Commercial Victimisation survey, the Association of Convenience Stores and the British Retail Consortium shows that the volume of shop theft is increasing; understands that businesses and the people that work in shops are victims of shop theft and are increasingly at risk of violence and verbal abuse when dealing with shop thieves; believes that fresh thinking is needed on ways to tackle the root causes of shop theft with a particular focus on the most prolific drug-addicted shop thieves; seeks greater involvement from police and crime commissioners and the Government to tackle shop theft; calls on the Government to publish its review of the use of out of court disposals started in 2014; and recognises the need for businesses, communities and police forces to collaborate more closely to encourage better reporting and response to shop theft.”