The government has been urged to do more to tackle retail crime.
In a letter to Minister of State for Policing, Chris Philp MP, national president of the Federation of Independent Retailers (the Fed), Jason Birks has outlined the impact of crimes in the sector on victims.
According to a recent survey conducted among Fed members, theft of products under the value of £200 and abuse/hate crime were the most prominent incidences of retail crime, at 78% and 54%, respectively.
Four in ten survey respondents reported vandalism of their business while 23% experienced armed robbery and 18% had suffered theft of products over the value of £200.
Birks called on Philp to consider installing a swifter, more purposeful reporting mechanism and to encourage a better response to retail crime from police forces.
He said: “The failure to protect retailers has undermined confidence in both the police and the criminal justice system. The refusal to attend incidences that are deemed as low value or to have measured insufficient ‘threat’ levels have left retailers frustrated, as repeat offenders seem to steal and threaten with impunity.”
The Fed survey revealed that 45% of members stated ‘lack of faith in the police force’ as their main reason for not notifying authorities of the crime.
When asked about the police response following a reported retail crime incident, 26% of respondents described police response as ‘poor’, 22% rated the response as ‘unsatisfactory’, and 20% rated the response as ‘adequate’. Only 14% rated the police response as ‘good’ and just 5% rated the response as ‘excellent’.
Birks added: “We strongly believe that no-one should be threatened, abused or attacked in their place of work, and business owners should not have their livelihoods undermined by incidents of theft and abuse.
“Low value theft creates a larger financial impact on our members. Failure to offer a victim statement usually worsens the situation, as victims are denied the opportunity to explain the impact an offence has had on them personally and the impact on the business which they’ve spent years building up.”
He explained that independent retailers need more support. “Our members typically own small, family-run stores and suffer disproportionally more than their larger competitors when crime incidences occur. Unlike larger supermarkets, independent retailers do not have access to the same security resources such as guards and large quantities of CCTV cameras.
“Independent retailers are often open from very early in the morning until late evening and staffing is usually low, making retailers susceptible to abuse and crime. This makes them vulnerable to those who are prepared to steal, threaten, and attack staff.”
Birks also invited Philp to one of the Fed meetings to discuss the impact of retail crime.