Fed calls for government action on rising retail crime

Poor police response times were highlighted alongside poor prosecution rates and a lack of awareness of retail crime at judicial level

The Fed has called on the minister of state and policing to crack down on the rising tide of retail crime and violence against shopworkers in the wake of the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis

Fed national president Jason Birks has written to minister Chris Philp to highlight the impact of retail crime and to invite him to discuss the issue face to face with the Fed. 

The invitation follows a meeting last year between the minister and the National Retail Crime Steering Group – a voluntary group that includes representatives from the business community – where the minister faced questions on how he planned to improve the landscape for businesses. 

In particular, poor police response times were highlighted alongside poor prosecution rates and a lack of awareness of retail crime at judicial level. 

In his letter, Birks said: “The failure to protect retailers has undermined confidence in the police and the criminal justice system. 

“The refusal to attend incidences that are deemed ‘low value’ or to have measured insufficient ‘threat’ levels have left retailers frustrated, as repeat offenders seem to steal and threaten with impunity.” 

He added: “Retail crime is not victimless, and all victims should be offered the opportunity to complete victim-and-business-impact statements.” 

According to the Fed’s most recent figures, there has been a significant increase in abuse and attacks on retail workers and incidents of shoplifting since the beginning of the pandemic. 

A recent survey conducted among Fed members revealed theft of products under the value of £200 and abuse or hate crime were the most prominent instances of retail crime, at 78% and 54%, respectively. 

In addition, 40% of survey respondents had experienced vandalism within their business, 23% had experienced armed robbery and 18% had suffered theft of products over the value of £200. 

When asked why crimes were not reported, 45% of members gave a lack of faith in the police force as their main reason for not notifying authorities of the crime. 

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The minister for crime and policing is committed to doing all he can to reduce retail crime, bringing together retailers, trade associations, unions and police to ensure responses are as robust as they can be. 

“It is important businesses report incidents when they occur, gather relevant evidence and work closely with the police to ensure incidents are dealt with appropriately.” 

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