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Retail crime: violence and abuse against retail workers surges

Tom Bottomley
05 March 2020

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has today revealed a 9% rise in violence or abuse on retail workers compared to the previous year in its new annual Retail Crime Survey.

Despite Uk retailers spending a record £1.2bn on crime prevention measures, the survey shows that incidents have risen to 424 each day, with increased use of weapons such as knives being a worrying trend. What’s more, the losses resulting from retail crime climbed to £1bn.

In February 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We should not tolerate crimes of violence against shop workers,” and yet 70% of retailers surveyed reported that the police response on the incidents was either "poor" or "very poor".

The BRC is lobbying Parliament to introduce legislation that would make assaults on retail workers a specific criminal offence. This is combined with calls for police forces across the UK to prioritise retail crime and improve their response to incidents.

Helen Dickinson OBE, CEO of the BRC, commented: “Over 400 retail workers are subjected to violence or abuse in the workplace every day. These are not just statistics - these are real people who work hard for millions of customers every day. From abuse, to threats, to violence, those affected carry these experiences with them for a lifetime.

“The Government must help put an end to the scourge of retail crime. This means a stronger police response to criminal incidents, and new legislation to introduce tougher sentences for those who assault retail workers. No one should have to go to work fearing violence or threats," she added.

The annual British Retail Consortium Retail Crime Survey covers the period from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019 and draws on the responses of companies with nearly £130bn of combined annual turnover (representing some 33% of the UK retail industry).

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