Store owners have demanded more focus on tackling retail crime from Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs), as new Home Office figures revealed a £1bn increase in overall police funding between 2018-19 and 2019-20.

Met Police

The Home Office figures highlighted that the overall £1bn police funding rise included an increase in funding to PCCs of £815m, as well as funding for national priorities, counter-terrorism policing and the £100m serious violence fund.

Julian Taylor-Green, co-owner of Spar Lindford in Hampshire, which last year suffered a ram-raid causing £200,000 worth of damage, said he had not seen any further support, despite the increase in funding.

“I am just not sure where the money has gone. I can only talk for myself, but there is no police response at all,” he said. “We have not seen a single bit of extra support. It has probably been less if anything.”

According to the Association of Convenience Stores, of all of the PCCs in England and Wales, only one in four make any reference to retail crime as a priority area.

Paul Cheema, co-owner of Malcolm’s Stores in Coventry, said: “The biggest problem for me is that Police and Crime Commissioners don’t answer the phone, they don’t pledge support. There are some great PCCs out there. Some support what we are trying to do, but it is down to the individual.

“It is almost like we have to police ourselves now. My staff should not be having to do the job of the police. I don’t think the police understand the issues we’re facing.”

Julian added: “In my opinion, the Police and Crime Commissioners just don’t understand what is going on at ground level and how serious retail crime can be. We just do not hear from them, we do not see them – nothing.”

The ACS 2019 Crime Report found that there were over 10,000 incidents of violence towards store staff reported last year, while the cost of retail crime amounted to the equivalent of over £5,300 for every c-store in the UK.

ACS chief executive James Lowman welcomed the increase in police funding, but urged the government and Police and Crime Commissioners to ensure that retail crime is on the agenda for local forces.

“We welcome the year-on-year increase in police funding, but the experience of retailers when it comes to reporting crime is still inconsistent and, in many cases, extremely frustrating,” he said.

“We need the whole justice system to treat retail crimes like shop theft, violence and abuse seriously, which may not be intervention from the police in every case, but rehabilitation for offenders that are dealing with addiction and other issues. Police and Crime Commissioners also need to make retail crime a priority to help not just the businesses that are affected, but the wider communities in which they trade.”