Retail crime czar: ‘vulnerable’ retailers must become priority

Retail crime is trivialised and should be pushed higher up the agenda, says Martin Vickers, the Government’s new retail crime chief.

Retail crime is trivialised and should be pushed higher up the agenda, says the Government’s new retail crime chief.

Martin Vickers, the new chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Retail and Business Crime, said that just “because something might seem small, it doesn’t mean it’s insignificant”.

“The Government and the public are probably not aware of how bad retail crime is in their own towns, let alone nationally,” he said.

“Making it more of a public issue and giving it more coverage in local media would raise awareness and may even act as some form of deterrent.”

Vickers also emphasised the need for changes in police responses.

“I suspect different police forces will have different priorities,” he said.

“Retailers in certain areas might be feeling more vulnerable to crime, so we could press particular police forces and the Home Office to prioritise retail crime to a greater extent. What might seem a trivial amount to outsiders is actually a great loss to a retailer’s revenue.”

In June, a senior officer from Greater Manchester Police said the force would not respond to cases of shoplifting that did not pose a risk of physical harm.

“I don’t support that approach,” Vickers said. “Just because a victim was fortunate enough not to be injured, it doesn’t mean the incident should be wiped from the slate.

“The police have got to recognise that a loss can be very significant – by taking that position, they are inviting individuals to take the law into their own hands.”

He added that retailers can never completely crime-proof their stores, which was why the police and the Government needed to cooperate with retailers’ needs.

“You can never completely prepare if you’re operating in the front lines and meeting the public directly,” Vickers said. “The simple reality is that you are vulnerable. Police need to prioritise all retail crime.”

In numbers: Effects of retail crime in the UK

4.7m – The number of reported crimes that took place on retail and wholesale premises last year

£122m – Yearly cost of crime to convenience retailers

£43m – Annual cost of shop theft

£1,686 – Average cost per staff theft incident

8,862 – Number of incidents per 1,000 premises

10,945 – Estimated number of violent incidents causing injury to retailers in a year

1,836 – Number of retail crimes in the past year that involved use of a weapon

Source: ACS Crime Report 2016, Commercial Victimisation Survey 2015

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