The Home Secretary doesn’t believe budget cuts will affect service levels. But is cutting resources the right message to send out to vulnerable businesses?
The threat of crime is nothing new for convenience store retailers. Every day while serving their communities they face shoplifting, robbery or even physical attacks from criminals who view them as a soft target.
Yet this situation is potentially going to get worse in the coming months as the full effect of the government’s proposed budget cuts for the police force becomes clear. If convenience stores are highly susceptible to crime now, when the force’s resources are stretched even more thinly, retailers will be left even more open to robbery or attack.
Home Secretary Theresa May is adamant that the 6% budget cuts over the next four years won’t have any affect on service.
What we want:
Sentences for crimes against shop workers 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 crimes previously deemed low-level, such as shoplifting.
What you can do:
Sign the petition at: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/12401 Aim to get five signatures per store. If the petition gets 100,000 signatures the issue will have to be debated in parliament
Meet with your local crime prevention officer to see how they can help you, and if you can do anything to aid them
Report every crime, so police can get a true picture of the daily challenges faced when serving the local community.
Speaking at the Conservative Party conference earlier this month she explained the money-saving measures her department has put in place. “Through better procurement, improved efficiency and a likely pay freeze, there is no reason at all why frontline police services should not be maintained and improved,” she said. “Our police reform agenda might be made more urgent by spending cuts, but it’s not just about managing smaller budgets.”
May also detailed how changes in the force meant officers were no longer chained to desks and were now policing the streets. “The steps we’ve already taken will save up to 3.3 million police hours every year the equivalent of more than 1,500 officers, out there policing your streets,” said May. “And there will be more to come. We’re also going to help them by making sure that as we reduce budgets, we cut waste, not frontline services.”
Unfortunately retailers are not convinced. Nigel Dowdney, who has had trouble in the past with anti-social behaviour in his Norfolk store, believes the cuts will undo a lot of progress made to tackle crime. “Any reduction in funding is a big mistake and it will be communities that will end up paying for it,” he said. “There will be less police on the streets and criminals will start targeting stores more often.”
A reduced police presence on the street will send out the wrong message to businesses and leave retailers and their staff more vulnerable to crime. It’s essential that business crime is given the proper attention by the government and while the budget cuts may be set in stone, retailers do have the opportunity to change how crimes against store workers are treated by signing our e-petition calling for harsher penalties for retail offences.
We need 100,000 signatures for this to be debated in parliament, so please get all of your staff and customers to sign it. All it takes is 20,000 retailers to get five people to sign it to reach the target and bring some much-needed political attention to this issue.