Last week, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) published a report called Desperate for a Fix, focusing on tackling retail crime and calling for fresh thinking to find policies.
The report doesn’t necessarily approach the issue from a retailers' perspective, but I think it gets to the meat of the issues, which I see as follows:
Firstly, retailers I speak to are clear about what they want for people who commit crimes against their staff and their business: the toughest punishment to reflect the impact that the crime has had. The report leads on creating a second chance system for offenders, particularly those with drug problems. This is the right approach. Just as rehabilitation is better for society than imprisonment, so fixed penalty notices, that do nothing to either punish or help offenders, are the worst of all approaches.
The Government needs to face up to this, having ducked the issue since 2013 when they reported that half of the fixed penalty notices issued went unpaid, yet still they remain a mechanism for dealing with shop thieves.
The other big theme of the CSJ's report is the importance of engagement and ownership on retail crime from Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC). Following on from this report, we have launched a pledge for PCCs to show their willingness to work with retailers and adopt some simple ways of working to deal with shop theft when it occurs. Already we've seen some PCCs sign up to this and support from MPs across party lines for the principles in the pledge.
You need to get behind this. There's a template letter that you can send to your PCC, and it's absolutely vital that you play your part. Send this letter, but also try to get your PCC to your store. There is no substitute for engaging face to face and talking about the challenges.