Threats of violence and robbery which plague retailers on a daily basis continue to take attention away from their primary aim of running a business and serving their local community. However, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel thanks to a new cross-party group set up specifically to tackle retail crime.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Retail and Business Crime has been created with the aim of building better links between store owners and the authorities. The group was officially set up in March and met with retail groups last month to discuss how best to reduce crime against businesses.
Set up by Conservative MP for Hove and Portslade Mike Weatherley, the new group hopes to “bridge the gap between industry and parliament to raise the profile of retail and business crime matters”.
Speaking exclusively to Convenience Store, Weatherley explained how the group hopes to provide another route for retailers to communicate to MPs. “Parliament by its nature relies on input from many sources to help MPs do their job to improve many aspects of our lives,” he says. “Information for MPs is important and by adding this All Party Group to the routes to MPs, this will assist in bridging any gap that exists.”
One of the key areas that Weatherley hopes to tackle is the level of violent assaults on retailers. “Given the long hours that they work, often with low staffing levels, retailers are vulnerable to assaults, which needs to be addressed quickly,” he says.
The group also aims to address issues such as reporting crime, making grants for businesses more accessible and better communication between businesses, crime partnerships, the police and the government.
Weatherley says that larger retailers also have a part to play in tackling crime and must start acting on so-called ‘low-level’ offences such as shoplifting more robustly so that the authorities can do something about them.
“Low-level crime is important and must not take a back seat in discussions and plans,” he says. “Attitudes towards low-level crime need to change it should not be tolerated. Once one aspect is ‘tolerated’ then the problem in other areas just gets worse. Larger retailers have access to security that the smaller shops cannot for example, some sophisticated CCTV and security guards so they are in a position to not just tolerate it, but to help stop it.”
The group has already met with the Home Office and various retail trade groups including the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) about what can be done to help retailers protect themselves.
ACS public affairs director Shane Brennan commended the All Party Group for raising awareness of business crime. “The group is bringing attention to the issue of retail crime and we are open to working with them in the future,” says Brennan.
The creation of the All-Party Group is not the only action being taken to help retailers combat crime. The ACS is making a submission to the government’s anti-social behaviour consultation which has been extended until May 17.
As well as its own submission, Brennan urges retailers to respond to the consultation. “This is an opportunity for retailers to make their voices heard,” he says.
What you can do:
Contact the All Party Parliamentary Group on Retail and Business Crime at firstname.lastname@example.org Take part in the anti-social behaviour consultation which has been extended until May 17. Go to www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/consultations/asb-consultation. Alternatively, contact C-Store on 01293 610222 and we’ll make sure your views are heard Join or create a business crime partnership in your area that involves other businesses, local police and your MP Report every crime, no matter how insignificant it may seem Meet your crime prevention officer and see what you can do to help the police do their job.