Policing minister Chris Philp has confirmed that tackling retail crime is a priority for the government.
As part of the Fed’s political engagement strategy and commitment to raising awareness in government of the scale of retail crime, national president Jason Birks wrote to Philp in December.
Birks called on Philps to consider installing a more purposeful reporting mechanism and to encourage a better response to retail crime from police forces. He also called for victim impact statements to be made available to all if a case goes to court.
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Birks said: “The failure to protect retailers has undermined confidence in both the police and the criminal justice system. The refusal to attend incidences that are deemed as low value or to have measured insufficient ‘threat’ levels have left retailers frustrated, as repeat offenders seem to steal and threaten with impunity.
“Low value theft creates a larger financial impact on our members. Failure to offer a victim statement usually worsens the situation, as victims are denied the opportunity to explain the impact an offence has had on them personally and the impact on the business which they’ve spent years building up.
“Retail crime is not a victimless crime, and all victims should be offered the opportunity to complete victim and business impact statements.”
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Philp responded: “I am committed to keeping our retail environments safe by driving down crime in retail settings, including violence and abuse towards shop staff.
“Shops are the lifeblood of our communities and neighbourhoods, and retail workers have the right to feel safe at work. As you know, I chair the National Retail Crime Steering Group (NRCSG), which is a valuable forum for understanding the crime concerns of the sector and bringing together government, policing and the sector to ensure we can work together to tackle crime.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Fed for your continued engagement and commitment to the work of the NRCSG.
“I take the issue of violence and abuse against retail workers seriously and I am clear that any assault on any worker, particularly those providing a service to the public, is unacceptable.”
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Philp confirmed that he believes all victims of retail crime should be offered the opportunity to complete victim and business impact statements.
“The use of victim impact statements is crucial in capturing the impact on the victim themselves, but also the impact on the business as a whole or other colleagues who may be affected by witnessing a crime,” he said.
“Reporting crime to the police is the first crucial step in ensuring an appropriate police response. Shop theft, particularly when committed by prolific offenders, is most effectively tackled when retailers and local policing teams work together, for example through Business Crime Reduction Partnerships (BCRP) and other initiatives to share information about crime.
“I encourage retailers to join their local BCRP or Business Improvement District to support local community efforts to reduce crimes like shoplifting. Partnership between retailers and the police is important to help ensure an effective response to crimes reported.”
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