The number of incidents of violence in UK convenience stores was estimated at more than 50,000 over the last year, of which one in four resulted in injury, according to the Association of Convenience Stores’ 2020 Crime Report.

Crime victim

The report also estimated that, based on responses, 83% of employees experienced verbal abuse and 29% of independent retailers experienced violence over the past 12 months.

The ACS Crime Report provides evidence of the scale and impact of theft, violence, abuse and other crimes committed against convenience store retailers and their staff, setting out a clear vision for how the government and the justice system can take action.

The financial cost of crime against the sector “cannot be underestimated”, with crime costing stores more than £211m in direct costs, despite investment of £209m in crime prevention measures such as CCTV, cash handling systems and external security.

In practical terms, the £211m lost last year to criminal activity equates to a 7p ‘crime tax’ on every transaction in a convenience store, according to the ACS.

Theft was the biggest contributor to the cost of crime, with more than 1.1 million incidents, mostly committed by repeat offenders who are stealing to fund addiction and other criminal activity.

The ACS has set out five areas where the government and justice system can take action to better support the convenience sector:

  • Support local shops in investing in crime prevention equipment
  • Conduct a proper review of the Out of Court Disposals (OOCD) system to better address the root causes of offending
  • Tougher penalties for attacks on shopworkers
  • Continued funding and support for the National Business Crime Centre
  • Ensure that Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) recognise retail crime in their local plans

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Local shops employ around 405,000 people. None of those people should come to work expecting to deal with abuse, threats of violence, attacks or having a weapon put in their face, but that is the reality they face. This isn’t ‘low-level’ crime, this is a progressively violent cycle of reoffending that is taking an enormous toll on Britain’s local shops.

“Our Crime Report is a wake up call for government and the rest of the justice system to deal with repeat offenders, help shops to invest in crime prevention measures themselves, and prioritise responding to crime at a local level.”

The BRC ’s latest crime survey revealed that incidents of violence and abuse against shopworkers have risen to 424 each day, up 9% on last year.

Read the full ACS report here.