Retailers have blamed a lack of police response for their unwillingness to report incidents of robbery and abuse.

They believe increased presence on the streets and closer co-operation with retailers would prevent violent attacks on store staff. However, police services say they can best deploy their limited resources by compiling reports of incidents.

One shop owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, wrote to Convenience Store to advise fellow retailers to demand a crime number when reporting an incident, as this is used when compiling statistics rather than the log number given for calls.

Another retailer, Nizam Patel of Mace in Darnell, Sheffield, said he did not report minor incidents. "If I catch someone shoplifting, I have to keep them there until the police arrive," he said. "By then they could have attacked me or done serious damage."

Dave Newman of Hastings, East Sussex, said he doubted the effectiveness of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs). "They can range from responsive and proactive through to uninterested," he said. "As quickly as you can build up a relationship, they move on and you have to start again."

Prime Minister Gordon Brown recently announced that officers and PCSOs should spend most of their time on patrol rather than at the station.

A Home Office spokesperson told C-Store: "Neighbourhood policing teams are working with small businesses to ensure their needs and concerns are reflected in local priorities.

"Our new commercial victimisation survey will also increase our understanding of business crime and help the police set priorities."

In a letter to C-Store, Home Office Minister Alan Campbell said: "We are firmly committed to finding effective solutions to business crime. Convenience stores are key members of the community and should be able to provide services without the fear of crime and disorder."
In just 10 days
March 3: A Brighton retailer is stabbed in the arm while chasing teenagers who stole cigarettes 

March 7: A shop assistant is threatened with a knife during a robbery in Luton, Bedfordshire 

March 11: A newsagent is slashed with a machete at his store in Manchester 

March 12: Three robbers armed with a shotgun strike at a Londis store in Mossley Hill, Merseyside 

March 13: A shopworker is shot in the face with an air gun during a raid in Ipswich, Suffolk 

March 13: Three raiders use a knife and gun to steal cash and cigarettes from a Co-op in Widnes, Cheshire.