Anti social behaviour still _

 Ahead of the PCC elections on 2 May, Co-op is urging retailers, colleagues, member-owners and communities blighted by retail crime to contact their Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) and call for tougher action.

As seen by today’s shocking ONS shop theft stats, the retail industry has seen an unprecedented rise in retail crime, driven by repeat and prolific offenders, and Co-op wants everyone impacted by this to call on their PCCs to commit to the following pledges:

  • Fully implement the commitments in the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Retail Crime Action Plan
  • Ensure the new stand-alone offence of assault against a shopworker is enforced and progress is reported through their Police and Crime Plan.

Co-op colleagues and member-owners have campaigned for six years for change following unprecedented levels of unchecked retail crime, attacks and assaults – with criminals acted with impunity and seemingly free from fear of any consequences.

Last October saw the launch of NPCC’s Retail Crime Action plan, which set out measures to tackle the rise in shoplifting – which is all too often a flashpoint for violence, abuse and anti-social behaviour; catch more offenders; and keep retail workers safe. Then, earlier this month (10 April), the Government announced plans to make assaulting a retail worker a standalone criminal offence in England and Wales – providing shop workers with the protection they deserve and sending a clear message that there will be tough consequences for this unacceptable behaviour.

Co-op believes this amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill will, if enforced, build on the advancements seen to address crime, violence and intimidation since the introduction of the Retail Crime Action Plan last October. However, without the commitment of the PCC’s to focus on retail crime, both of these new steps could face failure.

Paul Gerrard, Co-op Director of Campaign and Public Affairs, said: ”Retail crime impacts shopworkers both physically and mentally, with many communities blighted by unacceptable levels of persistent and prolific offending. Newly elected PCCs have the opportunity to crack-down on retail crime through the implementation of the Retail Crime Action Plan and by enforcing the new standalone offence - we are calling on the next PCCs to deliver the protection that those working in retail and, serving communities in towns, villages and cities across the UK, deserve.”

Earlier this year, Co-op revealed that retail crime had hit record levels. This coincided with the launch of a hard-hitting new report commissioned by Co-op, and written by Professor of Criminology at City, University of London, Emmeline Taylor, which set out a ten point plan** focused on turning the tide on prolific offenders who relentlessly blight communities and wreak physical and mental harm on store workers. Central to the report’s recommendations was making an attack on shopworkers a stand-alone offence - something the Co-op has campaigned for since 2018.

Co-op has invested more than £200m over recent years in colleague and store safety and security, this includes the latest interactive CCTV; body-worn cameras – which Co-op has used since 2019 to capture real time audio and visual footage at the touch of a button; the roll-out of fortified kiosks; use of dummy (or empty) packaging to deter bulk-theft and, covert (undercover) and non-covert guarding - with the tactical use of specially trained guards to detain criminals.

Urge your PCC to tackle retail crime in your community