Only 23% of police and crime commissioners (PCCs) to have published their police and crime plan have mentioned retail crime, despite pressure from trade groups and store owners.
Analysis by Better Retailing showed that out of the 42 PCCs in England and Wales, 35 have published their mandatory plan for the next four years.
Only eight (22.9%) mentioned retail crime, while 26 (74.3%) made a reference to retail or business crime.
The documents act as the ‘blueprint’ for how police time and other resources will be allocated to combatting different issues in the local area.
Despite the low levels, the figures show substantial improvement in recognition of retail crime since last year.
Analysis by Better Retailing in the run-up to the May 2021 PCC elections showed just 3.6% of candidates mentioned retail crime in their election material.
The NFRN has met with half of all the elected PCCs in England and Wales as part of its bid to ensure retail crime remains an important part of their plans.
NFRN national president Narinder Randhawa said: “While responses have varied, we have been heartened by the increasing understanding and appreciation of the issues surrounding retail crime and the physical and verbal abuse of staff.”
Thames Valley PCC Matthew Barber noted retail crime in his manifesto, highlighting how important it is that store owners continue reporting crime, so the police can get a clear picture of its severity.
“Although it will be hard to ensure all crime is reported, it is something we have identified as important, to ensure all retailers who are victims of crime are getting the support needed if an incident does happen,” he said.
Sussex PCC Katy Bourne has shown how having a PCC focused on retail issues can improve life for store owners and staff.
A pilot of her ‘One Touch Reporting’ initiative, operating in 22 Co-op stores, has helped log more than 600 crimes since its launch last year, identifying 27 offenders and leading to multiple arrests of prolific shoplifters.
Cumbria PCC Peter McCall did not mention retail crime in his police and crime plan, but said work had been underway to tackle the issue.
Asked by Better Retailing about the absence of retail crime in his plan for the next four years, McCall said: “There had been issues with shoplifting in Cockermouth and I arranged a meeting with the local retail business owners and police officers to listen and discuss ways forward for the town.”
He said he considered retail crime to fall under the category of ‘neighbourhood crime’, which he did reference.
“The terminology ‘neighbourhood crime’ used with the PCC plan refers to burglary and theft, including shoplifting, which is highlighted within various priorities,” he explained.
The NFRN also suggested its lobbying on retail crime had found success beyond PCC police and crime plans.
The trade group also hosts the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Retail Crime. Combined pressure from MPs, PCCs, the NFRN and other trade groups helped drive a government U-turn to support the creation of new offences for those that assault shop workers.
Last week, an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that creates the aggravated offence was passed in the House of Commons.
Randhawa confirmed the NFRN would continue working with PCCs to ensure “the provisions of the law are fully used” once it comes into force.
PCCs who included retail crime in their police and crime plan:
Cheshire (John Dwyer), Devon & Cornwall (Alison Hernandez), Dorset (David Sidwick), Hampshire (Donna Jones), London, South Yorkshire (Alan Billings), Sussex (Katy Bourne), Thames Valley (Matthew Barber) and Warwickshire (Philip Seccombe).
PCCs who included retail or business crime in their police and crime plan:
Avon & Somerset (Mark Shelford), Bedfordshire (Festus Akinbusoye), Cambridgeshire (Darryl Preston), Cheshire (John Dwyer), Devon & Cornwall (Alison Hernandez), Dorset (David Sidwick), Durham (Joy Allen), Dyfed Powys (Dafydd Llywelyn), Essex (Roger Hirst), Hampshire (Donna Jones), Hertfordshire (David Lloyd), Humberside (Jonathan Evison), Kent (Matthew Scott), Lancashire (Andrew Snowden), Leicestershire (Rupert Matthews), Lincolnshire (Marc Jones), Merseyside (Emily Spurrell), Northumbria (Kim McGuinness), South Yorkshire (Alan Billings), Staffordshire (Ben Adams), Surrey (Lisa Townsend), Sussex (Katy Bourne), Thames Valley (Matthew Barber), Warwickshire (Simon Seccombe), West Mercia (John-Paul Campion) and West Midlands (Simon Foster).
PCCs who failed to mention retail or business crime in their police and crime plan:
Cleveland (Steve Turner), Cumbria (Peter McCall), Derbyshire (Angelique Foster), Gwent (Jeff Cuthbert), North Wales (Andy Dunbobbin), Nottingham (Caroline Henry), South Wales (Alun Michael) and Suffolk (Tim Passmore).
Yet to publish a police and crime plan:
Gloucestershire (Chris Nelson), Greater Manchester (Mayor Andy Burnham), Norfolk (Giles Orpen-Smellie), Northamptonshire (Stephen Mold), North Yorkshire (Zoë Metcalfe), West Yorkshire (Mayor Tracy Brabin) and Wiltshire (Philip Wilkinson).
Read more retail crime news and advice