From almost my first day with ACS, there has been one message I’ve heard more than any other from retailers: crime is the biggest operational burden on their business. Not only is the cost a significant issue, but so, too, is the toll it takes on the people working in store.

On 17 March we will be launching our annual Crime Report at the Crime Seminar in London. Delegates will hear how shop theft cost the sector more than £43m last year, a significant rise on 2014. On a more positive note, there has been a steady decline in incidents of violence and verbal abuse, but nearly half of retailers still have to cope with such incidents.

The report forms part of our continuing strategy to get tackling retail crime higher up the government’s agenda. We believe there are three key areas that government needs to urgently address. First, we have reiterated our calls for penalties for violence against shopworkers to match those for violence against public servants.

Second, we believe that giving fixed penalty notices to repeat offenders and having a £200 threshold for offences before an offender has to go to court does nothing to tackle crime. We want an urgent review into the number of out-of-court disposals and court summons that have been issued to shop thieves since the £200 threshold was introduced.

Third, there needs to be continued investment in neighbourhood policing and PCSOs so that they can work pro-actively with local retailers in tackling crime. Many retailers are frustrated at slow police response times when they report crime, and the sustainable answer to this is building a relationship.