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This week I visited a retailer whose shop in Lambeth is just a short bus ride away from where teenager Jimmy Mizen was stabbed to death in 2008. Jay Patel is part of the CitySafe Haven scheme, which was set up after the teenager died, and which encourages shop keepers to give sanctuary to any young people who feel threatened or in danger. It’s a great scheme but it’s terribly sad that it needs to exist at all.
Only last week Jay took a frightened youngster and his bike into the shop after three older boys tried to steal it. When he went outside to ask the three boys what they were playing at, all three of them knew who he was and were embarrassed, he says, to have been caught doing something so shameful.
I’m constantly impressed by the way retailers deal with the thoroughly unpleasant experience of being robbed or threatened with physical violence, and those who put themselves in harm’s way to protect others should be commended for their decency and bravery.
In next week’s Retail Newsagent, MP Priti Patel says that she is going to make tackling retail crime a priority. I hope that as the new chair of the All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group, she will prove there is a genuine intention behind these words and that it’s not just lip service.