Lancashire police and crime commissioner (PCC) Clive Grunshaw recently said more action was needed to tackle retail crime.
Speaking at the NFRN’s North West dinner & dance in November, he urged members to report all incidents of shop theft – no matter the value of the product taken.
So how disappointing just one month later to hear Paddy Tipping, one of his colleagues, warn that Nottingham police would “probably not” investigate shoplifting cases as it sought to make savings of more than £16m over the next two years.
Not surprisingly, the comments sparked fury. Shop theft is a significant and growing cost to independent retailers. Because of this, it is also one of the biggest threats to NFRN members’ businesses and their livelihoods.
No crime is ever too small and police cannot ignore incidents of shop theft because of the cost.
At the beginning of the year, statistics from the Office of National Statistics revealed that cases of shoplifting in England and Wales had jumped by 5% to 349,670. These figures are shocking enough, but when you consider that many incidents go unreported – and the NFRN knows from our surveys that many retailers do not report shop theft because they do not have confidence in the justice system – the problem could potentially be far higher.
In the New Year, the NFRN will be making a renewed push to bring retail crime further up the agenda of the various parliaments. We will also be urging all PCCs to send a clear message to their police forces that shop theft cannot be downgraded.
As Nottingham newsagent John Barlow so rightly told the press after Mr Tipping’s comments: “They are basically telling thieves: ‘help yourselves!’ Of course there are more serious crimes police need to solve, but you can’t just give thieves a licence to steal.”
With Christmas and the end of another year in sight, may I wish you a good trading over the festive period and a happy, healthy and crime-free 2018.