The Scottish minister for community safety has outlined her commitment to tackling retail crime, amid new research revealing 100% of Scottish convenience retailers experienced retail crime last year.

Speaking at the Scottish Grocer’s Federation (SGF) retail crime seminar in Edinburgh on Thursday (7 February), Ash Denham MSP highlighted further financial support for Police Scotland and insisted the the Scottish government was “happy to consider any further legal reforms that would add new protection to the existing law”.

“We’re protecting and increasing the overall budget for policing, which will rise to over £1.2bn next year. This includes a substantial increase in the capital budget in order to modernise ICT,” she said.

“This will support Police Scotland’s ambition to introduce mobile working for police officers, so that they have information at their fingertips and can spend less time in the office and more time in our communities.”

Referring to Scotland’s move away from short prison sentences, she said: “Over the last decade, this government has taken steps to end our reliance on custody and move towards effective community sentences that enhance public safety and promote rehabilitation. We’ve done this because there is compelling evidence that short custodial sentences do little to rehabilitate or reduce the likelihood of reoffending.”

Scotland has introduced a ban on prison sentences of under three months, with plans to extend the minimum to 12 months later this year.

According to the SGF Scottish Crime Report 2019, 63% of Scottish retailers experienced shop theft on a daily basis in 2018, while 100% of respondents said they had experienced incidents of abuse when refusing a sale.

Amjid Bashir, owner of Glasgow’s biggest chain of convenience stores, Newsbox, said: “Retail crime is real. We the retailers are unfortunately on the front line of every violence. All we are trying to do is make a living.

“Sadly, much of the abuse has not been and won’t be reported to the police. Many retailers like myself feel that retail crime is not taken seriously enough by the authority, as it is treated as a low level crime.”

Denham added: “Our partners are at the forefront of that effort, working with other services, businesses and the wider public. This includes Police Scotland, the Scottish business resilience centre, neighbourhood watch Scotland, local government and the Scottish community safety network.

“Collectively, they can take substantial credit for the 42% fall in recorded crime that we’ve witnessed since 2006/07. I recognise the key role of government in supporting our partners to reduce and also prevent crime.”