New Government guidelines for shop crime sentencing, which include factoring in the impact on retailers, have been welcomed as a step in the right direction.

Under the new guidelines, magistrates are now being told to assess the impact of shop crime when sentencing and also increase jail terms – particularly when knives and other weapons are used.

Chairman of the Sentencing Council Lord Justice Treacy said: “We aim to ensure that the impact on victims is properly taken into account – robbery is not just about losing property.

“Victims can be seriously injured or traumatised, so we want an assessment of the level of harm to the victim to be central to judges’ decisions about the sentence an offender should get.”

Paul Baxter, chief executive of the NFRN, said: “Independent retailers, their family members who work alongside them and their staff all have a right to feel safe behind their shop counters but sadly, hardly a day goes by when someone in retail does not become a victim of some violent and terrifying crime.”

He said the NFRN has been calling for more to be done to support retail crime victims as police response times can be disappointing, prosecution rates are low and, often, sentences do not fit the severity of the crime.

“It is pleasing that the Sentencing Council has noted all these concerns. It seems that, at long last, crimes against shopkeepers are recognised as far from victimless,” he added.