Retailers are demanding police and government take retail crime more seriously in the wake of early findings from the British Retail Consortium's annual retail crime poll.
Preliminary results from the survey, due to be published in full next month, show nine out of 10 retailers believe retail crime is low on the government's agenda. Some 86% believe it is failing to properly address the issue, and 77% are dissatisfied or very
dissatisfied with police response times.
Just 5% of retailers say they feel police treat retail crime as anything other than a low or very low priority. Among small and medium-sized businesses more than half (53%) are dissatisfied with the police response to retail crime and only 3% are very satisfied with the government's efforts.
Londis retailer Vikram Karavadra from Northampton said: "We have to constantly keep our eyes open for shoplifters. The police don't want to come down and if they do it's two hours later and the shoplifters are well gone. The government needs to take retail crime much more seriously and the punishment needs to be a lot tougher."
The results come as the Sentencing Advisory Panel consults on its proposals to lessen the penalties for shoplifting, which include removing the threat of custodial sentences.
BRC director general Kevin Hawkins said: "This is no victimless crime. Ultimately, the costs fall on honest shoppers and retailers. For some retailers, especially smaller ones, the losses may even threaten their viability."
John Smith, vice-president for retail at ADT, which sponsors the survey and Convenience Store's Zero Tolerance campaign, added: "We understand the concerns expressed by many in this survey and would support vigorous debate. We will continue to work with retailers to ensure they have the best technology to combat crime and support their loss prevention strategies."