Since then, these virtual meetings have been held every other Thursday to help independent retailers share time together.
Each meeting has as theme, with one recently focusing on retail crime. From petty theft to burglary and worse, independent stores face all types of crime.
I know from personal experience retailers and their employees are deeply affected by crime. My wife and I needed to close our shop and Post Office because of a burglary and our customers were shocked by the consequences of our experience.
In her reporting on retail crime, Megan Humphrey, editor of Retail Express has been in contact with several police and crime commissioners (PCCs) including the current chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, Katy Bourne, PCC for Sussex.
Bourne has previously owned a small business and so has an understanding of the challenges independent retailers face.
Having her join the #retailtogether meeting on retail crime was a fantastic coup for Newtrade Media.
Introducing herself and her role she said there are several things independent retailers need to know about PCCs:
- There are forty, one for each police service area across England and Wales, and they are elected every four years
- Each PCC is required to produce a police and crime plan as well as control police budget for their area
- Their core functions are to maintain an efficient and effective police force within their area in addition to holding the chief constable to account for the delivery of the police and crime plan
She added that along with her colleagues around England and Wales, she has the ability to help small business to tackle the crimes they face every day. In Sussex for example, the police and crime plan promises that all reports of crime by retailers will be investigated, no matter how small the amount.
However, if retailers fail to report crimes, the police cannot know the true extent of shop crime in a given area. Without accurate data, the correct level of police response cannot be put in place.
Bourne illustrated this by saying that when she met with some independent retailers and their local police in Brighton, the retailers felt there was a high level of shop theft. But as so many incidents were not reported the police believed the situation to be quite different.
This means retailers, in cooperation with their PCC, have a significant part to play in improving their own situation.
If low value thefts are not reported they remain invisible to the police, the PCCs and the government. Without evidence of the true level and cost of retail crime, resources will not be properly allocated to tackle it.
Read more retail crime news and advice