Shoplifting: Coalition say police not turning up to deal with violent attacks as criminals have already fled
The police say: "In some cases, there may not be enough information for police to act upon or bring about criminal proceedings"
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The group calls for a commitment to tackling unprecedented levels of theft after the group has written to police and crime commissioners in England and Wales calling on forces to make it easier to pass on evidence and boost efforts to find repeat and violent offenders.
Its letter comes amid reports of record levels of shoplifting and even organised looting.
The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) chief executive James Lowman said: “The unprecedented levels of shop theft being faced by retailers cannot be allowed to continue.
“We have set out a three-pronged approach for police forces across the UK to adopt and make it clear that they are committed to tackling the problem.
“Theft and abuse are a blight on communities, with addicts and criminal gangs repeatedly targeting hardworking retailers and their colleagues.
“These are not victimless crimes, and they must be investigated to bring the most prolific offenders to justice.”
The coalition is made up of business groups the ACS, the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the British Independent Retail Association, the Federation of Small Businesses, the Federation of Independent Retailers and shop workers’ union Usdaw.
Its letter says: “Rather than seeing this as high volume, low value crime, we can recognise the opportunity it gives us to identify prolific offenders who blight communities by committing these and other crimes.
“You should expect retailers to provide good quality evidence on offenders, and they should expect this to be analysed, investigated and followed up with meaningful interventions for those individuals.
“We can break the cycle of reoffending if we take this opportunity to commit to this approach.”
It calls for police action in three areas:
– To make it easier for retailers to report crime and submit evidence. Currently systems are unclear and time-consuming, the group said.
– To identify prolific offenders behind most of the thefts and anti-social behaviour – it singles out Nottinghamshire and Sussex police forces for praise for their systems that focus on collecting data on the worst criminals.
– To prioritise gathering evidence related to violent attacks.
The letter says: “We often see scenarios where violence against shop workers is not responded to by the police because incidents do not meet forces’ threat, harm and risk criteria as offenders have left the premises after committing an offence.
“In the vast majority, if not all, of retail businesses there will be CCTV footage available to support police lines of inquiry into violent incidents.
“Therefore, we would like to see the proactive collection of evidence prioritised by police forces.”
The BRC has estimated that theft is costing retailers nearly £1 billion per year, while the ACS says 90% of workers have experienced verbal abuse in that period.
Both Home Secretary Suella Braverman and policing minister Chris Philp have already called on police to be tougher on shoplifting.
National Police Chiefs' Council Lead for Acquisitive Crime, Chief Constable Amanda Blakeman, said in their shoplifting statement: “Retail crime has a damaging impact on people and business, which is why we are doing everything possible to tackle offenders and support retailers in reducing shoplifting and attacks on retail staff.
"Police forces take any incident of violence incredibly seriously, and will prioritise our response where there is a risk to individuals. Each force will have their own response model which considers the threat, risk and harm of every call, and this is why it is so important to provide as much information as possible when reporting to us.
"In some cases, there may not be enough information for police to act upon or bring about criminal proceedings. For these types of offences, police focus on targeting prolific offenders, organised crime networks, and ensuring effective prevention measures are in place.
"We work closely with retailers, industry groups and government as part of the National Retail Crime Steering Group. Through this group, we provide support and guidance to retail workers to ensure their safety and reduce opportunities for thefts. We will continue to work closely with them, listen to their concerns, and act appropriately."
In a post from Police.UK, they offer six ways to secure shops from shoplifters. They say to:
- Have a meet and greet to deter shoplifters
- Crime map - see where inside the thefts occur and see where surveillance can be increased
- Electronic tagging - looking at how you can improve anti-theft systems
- Keep stores tidy
- Look out for personal safety
- There is safety in numbers