Store owners who are the target of violence, abuse and crime are being urged to contact their local police force to prevent the problem from escalating.

Detective Inspector Michael Montford of Greater Manchester Police advised retailers to find out who deals with business crime on their Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) and get in touch with them, rather than waiting for crime to affect them.

He urged retailers to report every crime that occurs, no matter how small. In the course of the investigation of Gurmail Singh's death, it was discovered that a violent encounter in the store two days earlier, possibly involving the murder suspects, had gone unreported.

Montford said that police were having difficulty in defining business crime and that no two of the 43 forces categorise it the same way. He added that all forces have NPTs that visit businesses and retailers should approach them with their worries.

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said both retailers and police must be more proactive. "Retailers need to take the initiative and engage with the police and local partnerships, but these agencies need to be more attuned to the problems faced by retailers and their staff," he said.