Retailers are sceptical towards the home secretary’s pledge to have every crime investigated, with shop owners claiming resources are already too stretched to tackle shoplifting.
On 28 August, home secretary Suella Braverman said that every crime must be investigated, and it is “unacceptable” that crimes such as shoplifting and phone theft have been treated as “less important”. Braverman claimed all police forces in England and Wales had pledged to follow ‘all reasonable lines of enquiry”, with new guidance on investigating such crimes is to be issued.
Yet, the following day the National Police Chief’s Council warned nearly half of all police forces have less officers now than in 2010, and said this meant police forces still need the freedom to make ‘difficult decisions’ on how to manage their resources.
Terrence Ford, shop owner at One Stop on St Johns Road, Ely, Cambridgeshire, had a shoplifting incident take place Sunday (27 August), and reported this to the police. In response to the home secretary’s message, he believes it “absolutely” will help the current shoplifting epidemic taking place in the area, which he experiences often and finds “heartbreaking”.
“Realistically, we’re not allowed to do anything [about the shoplifting] – we just watch them do it and ask them to leave.” He attributed much of the acquisitive crime to substance abuse in the local area.
Ford said it was important to get “more police on the streets”, but at present the force “is very stretched out”.
“With all the budget cuts across the board, it is absolutely understood why all of this gets ahead of them,” he said, and added that there was “absolutely” concern that the police won’t be able to follow through with the home secretary’s demands as a result.
Meanwhile, Eugene Diamond of Diamonds Newsagents, Ballymena, County Antrim, acknowledged that shop theft has “shot up in the past year”, but he does not believe the home secretary’s pledge will make a difference, as desperation and not caring are “the main factors” of theft.
Close by, Colin Heggarty, retailer at Spar on Doury Road, Ballymena, is more praising of the police, noting that the response rate to reports of crime has been “quite good”.
However, he said that he thinks it will take “a wee bit of time” for the police response rate to improve according to Braverman’s requests, “as long as they go along with it”.
Read more retail crime news and advice