The recent riots have put the spotlight on small stores’ community role. Our petition urges the authorities to give them the protection they deserve
With the rioting and looting that devastated many stores in cities across England still fresh in the memory of the public and politicians, Convenience Store believes the time is right to reiterate demands for tougher sentences for criminals who attack retailers serving their local community. That’s why we have launched an e-petition on the Government’s website.
Our petition calls for penalties for criminals who attack local retailers and their staff to be in line with those handed out for attacking other community workers such as nurses, police officers, fire fighters or paramedics.
What we want:
Sentences for crimes against shopworkers to be classified similarly to those against other workers put in harm’s way by serving the community
A more visible police presence on the streets
A commitment to investigate all crimes that were previously deemed low-level, such as shoplifting.
What you can do:
Sign the petition at: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/12401 Ask your staff and customers to sign it, too, and aim to get five signatures per store. If the petition gets 100,000 signatures the issue will have to be debated in parliament
Contact your local police force to arrange a meeting with your community crime prevention officer to see how they can help you, and if there’s anything you can do to support them in return
Report every crime, no matter how trivial it seems, so that police forces can get a true picture of the daily challenges faced by store owners serving the local community.
Local shops open long hours to serve their communities, and staff who work in them deserve to be properly protected by the authorities. If you want justice for all retailers and retail staff who might be the victims of criminal attacks, you can sign the petition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/12401.
The directgov e-petition system has already received a huge public profile following the riots, with a grass-roots public campaign to suspend benefit payments to those convicted of taking part in the disturbances, and the Prime Minister has confirmed that any e-petition gaining 100,000 signatures will be debated in parliament.
Events such as the recent wave of unrest that hit communities across England are, thankfully, unusual and short lived. But the legacy will be long term.
A particularly troubling aspect of the turmoil was that the rioters had decided that store owners were ‘rich people’ who could afford to stand the losses. Yet for many riot-hit retailers cleared out of stock, faced with a massive clean-up operation and who were left physically terrified, opening the store for the community the next day was a huge challenge. Some had to borrow money in order to re-stock, and cash flow is going to be an ongoing issue until insurance and damages claims are settled.
Heart of communities
Communities rely on their local shop being open and well stocked. So any attack on the local store, whether it is directed against its owner, its staff or its stock, damages the community itself. But it is not clear whether the authorities, or the general public, fully recognise this fact.
Behind the scenes, the Association of Convenience Stores has been lobbying the government to make sure that local retailers are protected, and thanks in part to its efforts violence against people serving the public is now enshrined as an ‘aggravating factor’ in sentencing guidelines.
But there is no doubt that a debate in Parliament about protection for retailers and their community role will increase awareness even further.
So here’s the deal. We send out more than 40,000 copies of Convenience Store to readers each fortnight. If just half of the convenience store community agree with the wording of our petition, that’s still potentially 20,000 stores involved. So five signatures per store will be enough to trigger a debate in parliament about the important community role played by retailers and whether they are currently being given enough protection from crime.
We believe that it’s not just you as store owners who are concerned about attacks on community retailers your customers are, too. So encourage these, your friends and your family and add five signatures per store to our e-petition. Let’s take this important issue directly to the government and the public at large. n