The Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF) is exploring a new legislative approach to tackling violent crime against shop staff after it reported that a quarter of convenience stores regularly experience physical and verbal abuse.
Its annual retail crime survey highlighted that Scotland was in the grip of a shoplifting “wave”, which often involved violence and verbal abuse.
Only last month, Aberdeen convenience store Adie’s Self Service was robbed twice in two weeks, losing thousands of pounds worth of stock and cash.
Peter Cheema, SGF chief executive, said retailers were increasingly asked to implement legislation, particularly around age verification, which provoked an anti-social response.
It was for this reason that the SGF was working with Daniel Johnson, MSP for Edinburgh South, to look at bringing forward legislation to the Scottish Parliament to make shops safer for staff and customers.
The SGF’s crime survey, showed that 92% of independent convenience stores said they regularly experienced shoplifting in 2015, but this year it had risen to 100%, in what Cheema called “this epidemic”.
The findings back up figures from Police Scotland which show 28,000 shoplifting incidents across Scotland last year.
Police Scotland said tackling all forms of violence remained a key priority.
Johnson, a former retailer, said he was committed to working with the SGF, shopworkers union USDAW and others to bring forward a Bill to improve protection.
“We are asking shop workers to uphold the law on a regular basis – especially on alcohol on tobacco. According to the research, that’s when tempers can flare and serious problems occur. We need to recognise that and look at offering more protection in law,” he said.
Retail and licensing solicitors TLT is advising the SGF on the most effective legislative approach
Figures from the Association of Convenience Stores’ (ACS) own Crime Survey (2016) show that shop theft alone cost the convenience sector more than £43m between 2015 and 2016. The ACS will release the results of its 2017 Crime Survey on March 9.