Further cuts to front-line policing will lead to a dramatic increase in crime and leave shop workers feeling more vulnerable, retailers have warned.
The warning comes as forces up and down the country prepare for budget restrictions in the Government’s autumn spending review.
West Yorkshire could lose almost 200 officers, Nottinghamshire is preparing to shed 70 PCSOs while London is braced to lose more than 1,000 PCSOs.
The cuts come at a time when retail crime tops the agenda for trade organisations such as the NFRN, and more and more retailers are speaking out about the risk of working behind the till.
Forces such as Sussex have said that they are considering not attending ‘low-level incidents’ such as shoplifting and non-residential burglaries. Retailers predict this will only exacerbate store and staff safety.
Gaurave Sood of Neelam Newsagents in London told Retail Express how his store was robbed as his elderly mother stood defencelessly behind the till.
“If people see the opportunity to commit crime, they’re more likely to do so and this is exactly what has happened,” he said. “The security for retailers is already low and I fear it is only going to get worse.”
The cuts will see the number of police officers fall to a 40-year low. Retailers fear this lack of police presence on the streets will mean they become targets.
“Vulnerable retailers are easy pickings, retailers aren’t high on the police agenda and this will only make criminals become more confident,” Harry Goraya of Nisa Local in Northfleet, Kent said. “They won’t care who they target.”
Amit Patel of Belvedere News, Food and Wine in Kent has already suffered repeatedly at the hands of criminals and fears he no longer has anyone to turn to.
“We have had issues in the past on the housing estate – anti-social behaviour, street drinking and drug dealing,” he said.
“We could once speak to the Police Community Support Officer’s to raise our concerns. You need the ‘Police to walk the beat’ as the old saying goes. A clear visibility deters criminals and anti-social behaviour.”
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