In last month’s column I said that 2018 would see the NFRN continue to raise awareness of the impact that retail crime can have on independent retailers and following recent developments I make no apologies for returning to the subject again.

For too many of our members, crime is something that is all too familiar, which is why the NFRN wants more protection for shop owners and their staff.

Most retailers take steps to protect their employees and customers from the threat of violence and abuse, and installing security equipment such as CCTV can prove useful in combating crime.

Often in the past, we have also been encouraged to improve relationships with our local police. However, according to a new survey by the Inspectorate of Constabulary that was released between Christmas and the New Year nearly half the people questioned in England and Wales – 44% – said they have not seen a bobby on the beat for the past 12 months.

Four fifths agreed that a regular uniformed police presence was important and the Inspectorate of Constabulary itself warned about the demise of neighbourhood policing and the critical part this can play in preventing crime.

It’s also not unheard of for police forces to ask shop owners to send in CCTV of shoplifting incidents rather than send officers out to the crime scene. 

Yet earlier this month Britain’s biggest police force – the Metropolitan Police – introduced new guidelines that urge officers not to investigate crimes that involve spending more than 20 minutes looking at CCTV.

On February 21, the NFRN is holding its annual parliamentary reception on the terrace of the House of Commons which gives members the opportunity to make the MPs and Lords attending aware of the issues facing independent retailers.

A commitment to tackling retail crime will be one of the solutions we will be seeking. And as many instances of violence and abuse arise when identification is requested ahead of selling an age-restricted product we will be pushing for legislation that makes this a specific offence.