A letter signed by 88 leaders in the retail industry, including CEOs of major companies like Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Marks & Spencer, has been sent to Interior Minister Suella Braverman, appealing for intervention.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) conducted a 2023 crime survey that revealed a significant increase in incidents of violence and abuse directed at retail workers. These incidents nearly doubled compared to pre-pandemic levels, with 867 reported daily cases in 2021/22. The survey also estimated that retail theft amounted to £953 million ($1.2 billion), despite retailers investing over £700 million in crime prevention measures.
The letter outlines two crucial demands from the retail industry:
- Creation of a Standalone Offence: Retailers are seeking the creation of a distinct criminal offense for assaulting or abusing a retail worker. They also call for tougher sentences for offenders. This would necessitate the recording of all retail crime incidents by police forces.
- Greater Police Prioritization: Retailers are urging police forces across the UK to give higher priority to addressing retail crime.
These demands come at a critical juncture as retail crime has become a pressing concern, impacting both business profitability and the safety of retail workers. Retail leaders are emphasizing the need for the government to take concrete steps to address the issue, particularly as the UK approaches an expected national election in 2024.
Helen Dickinson, CEO of the BRC, underscores the importance of translating government commitments into action to address these growing concerns.
Major retailers like John Lewis Partnership, Primark, Next, and Tesco have reported increased theft incidents and have implemented measures such as providing staff with body cameras to combat the rising trend in store crime. Discounter Aldi is also testing body cameras as a preventative measure.
Addressing the issue of retail crime has become a top priority for retailers in the UK, and they are calling for government intervention to safeguard their employees and businesses.