Some 88 UK retail leaders, including the CEOs of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, and Marks & Spencer, have written a letter to interior minister Suella Braverman, calling for action to address the increasing rates of retail crime. This comes as rising crime becomes a political issue in Britain ahead of the expected national election in 2024.
According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), their 2023 crime survey revealed that incidents of violence and abuse towards retail workers nearly doubled compared to pre-pandemic levels, reaching 867 incidents per day in 2021/22. The survey also highlighted that retail theft amounted to £953 million ($1.2 billion), despite retailers spending over £700 million on crime prevention.
The BRC stated, “The situation has clearly worsened; a separate survey of BRC members in 2023 found that shoplifting levels in 10 major cities had increased by an average of 27%.”
In anticipation of the ruling Conservative Party’s annual conference, the retail industry’s letter outlines two demands for the government. Firstly, they are calling for the creation of a standalone offense for assaulting or abusing a retail worker, with stricter sentences for offenders. This would require police forces to record all incidents of retail crime. Secondly, the industry is urging police forces across the UK to prioritize retail crime.
Helen Dickinson, CEO of the BRC, emphasized the need for action, stating, “It’s time the government put their words into action.”
Recent reports from the John Lewis Partnership, Primark, Next, and Tesco have highlighted the impact of increased theft on their businesses. John Lewis reported a £12 million increase in “shrinkage” (theft) in the first half of the year. Primark and Next stated that their profit margins were affected by rising theft, while Tesco has equipped its staff with body-cams in response to rising store crime. Aldi is also conducting trials with body-cams.
($1 = £0.8175)
Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Alison Williams
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