Crimes committed against retailers will now for the first time be recognised as having “real victims”, following changes to the law.

Retailers will now be able to make ‘impact statements’ under the Victims Code when their businesses fall victim to criminals, whether that is through shop theft, burglary or assault.

The statement will allow them to explain how the crime has affected their business, whether emotionally, financially, economically or in any other way.

Retailer Joe Williams from The Village Shop in Hook Norton, Oxfordshire, said: “Too much in the past has been focused on the criminal, how their lives have been affected and why they ended up stealing from shops, without taking into account the impact shop theft has on people’s lives.

“It’s not been focused on the retailer – courts don’t take into account what it does to our lives.”

Minister for Victims, Damian Green MP, said that the revised code sets out in plain English how to navigate an “often confusing and intimidating” criminal justice system, explaining what help victims can expect from the moment a crime is reported to support available after a trial.

The ACS has campaigned for businesses to be given a voice under the Victims Code. Chief executive James Lowman said: “Retail crime is not victimless – there is always a human and monetary cost.

“Allowing individuals and businesses to reflect the impact of crime will give retailers the confidence that sentences will fit the crime.

“This new Victims Code signals a breakthrough for businesses that will now be taken seriously by the criminal justice system when they are victims of crime.”