Retail crime survey

A new government report has reinforced the “harsh reality” that local shops were major victims of retail crime during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Home Office’s Commercial Victimisation Survey, launched last month, found nearly half of small shops and wholesalers across England and Wales reported an increase in assault between April 2020 and March 2021.

The survey of 2,284 businesses also highlighted the varying levels of abuse faced by small shop owners during the year. Sixty-one per cent of businesses reported facing verbal assaults.

It also highlighted more severe levels of abuse, with 22% experiencing threats or intimidation, while 13% were physically attacked without injury. All those surveyed believed the instances of abuse were related to the pandemic.

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Commenting on the findings, ACS chief executive James Lowman urged more stores to contact the police, as less than a third in the survey reported crimes to the authorities. “We know from our own research that criminals repeatedly targeted convenience stores throughout the course of the pandemic, and these findings from the Home Office have confirmed this harsh reality,” he said.

“However, we also know that retailers have been investing in crime-prevention measures in their businesses to send a clear message to perpetrators that these incidents will not be tolerated.

“The survey also confirms that retailers and the police are not working closely together enough. Many crimes go unreported, and when they are, the response from the police is mixed. We all need to redouble our efforts to share information and take action to tackle crime.”

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