James Lowman ACS

ACS chief executive James Lowman

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has called for the government’s new plan for cutting crime and tackling the underlying causes of repeat offending, to translate into real action for people operating and working in shops across the country that are repeatedly the victims of crime.

The government’s Beating Crime Plan aims to reduce crime, including neighbourhood crime and drug-related crime, through prevention, deterrent and enforcement and references challenges faced by local shops.

The plan states: “Shops are critical to areas, and often have become as much part of community identity as the church or pub. There has been too much violence targeted at retail workers and too much acquisitive crime on these premises.”

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We welcome the launch of this new plan and recognition of the unacceptable levels of violent crime and acquisitive crime faced by people working and operating local shops. We want to see Beating Crime Plan translate into real action for the National Retail Crime Steering Group (NRCSG) to take forward, creating meaningful changes for retailers and shopworkers.

“For too long now, the government has talked big on tackling crime in local neighbourhoods but delivered little. Local shops have no confidence that police forces have the resource to respond to crime in their shops including violent incidents.”

The Beating Crime Plan includes recommendations to:

  • ensuring every single person living in England and Wales has access to the police digitally through a national online platform;
  • improving the responsiveness of local police to 101 and 999 calls;
  • expanding the use of electronic monitoring for serious acquisitive offenders to a further 13 police force areas;
  • encouraging prison leavers to turn their backs on crime by securing employment.

Lowman added: “The problem of violence and abuse against colleagues working in our sector is getting worse, and these incidents have significant and long-lasting effects on the individuals and communities involved. We have long advocated for action to tackle the root cause of violence through diversionary programmes and ‘second chance’ programmes for prolific offenders with addiction problems – now it is time for the government to deliver”.

Figures from the 2021 ACS Crime Report show that there were over 40,000 violent attacks against people working in convenience stores and 1.1 million incidents of theft over the last year, many of which committed by repeat offenders with a drug or alcohol addiction.

ACS supported the Centre for Social Justice Report ‘Desperate for a Fix’ here that has called for the introduction of a ‘Second Chance’ Programme for prolific drug dependent offenders that often target local shops.