Crime, and lack of police response, has become such an issue that many retailers have given up reporting all but the most serious offences. However, in a significant concession, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has helped to secure a new focus from the government. The Home Office is calling for evidence of the impact of crime and ACS chief executive James Lowman is urging retailers to respond.
Violence and abuse in the convenience sector is a massive problem, and for many an everyday occurrence. It’s easy to get lost in the big numbers about the cost and impact, but these figures often account only for the number of crimes reported, which is just a fraction of what is happening on the ground, and certainly don’t tell the full story of the effect each incident has on those running and working in stores. Threats, abuse and violence can be life changing – these stories are more powerful than numbers alone.
The Home Office is aware it needs a better understanding of the problem, and has launched a call for evidence from the sector. This is an important opportunity to get involved with something that could have a direct influence on future government policy and potentially police and justice system priorities. It’s also important to note that this call for evidence is not just aimed at retailers. If you’ve had no experiences directly yourself but your staff have, the Home Office still wants to hear about them.
Ways to respond
There are a number of different ways to make sure that your voice gets heard in this call for evidence. Some of the main ways are:
1. Respond via ACS’ call for evidence template. Go to ACS.org.uk/lobbying and click on the button to fill in the survey, which has been designed to match with the questions that the Home Office is asking about violence and abuse.
2. Email the Home Office directly. If you want to send your story directly to the officials at the Home Office and provide your own feedback, you can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Send us a video message, detailing your experience. Sharing your experience of violence and abuse in store is as simple as taking a short video of either yourself or your staff and sending it to us online.
Violence and abuse in the c-store sector
83% of staff in convenience stores have experienced verbal abuse over the past year
There were almost 10,000 incidents of violence estimated in the sector over the past year
Of crimes where a weapon was present, 68% involved a knife
The top three triggers for aggressive/abusive behaviour in stores are: Challenging shop thieves; enforcing an age-restricted sales policy; refusing to serve drunk customers.
Source: ACS Crime Report 2019