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The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has echoed concerns raised by the Co-op and reported across the wider media about the levels of retail crime over the past year and the impact that this has on local shops and the communities that they serve.

New data published by the Co-op on July 27 showed that crime, shoplifting and anti-social behaviour has jumped 35% year-on-year, with more than 175,000 incidents recorded in the first six months of this year – almost 1,000 incidents every day.

Findings from ACS’ 2023 Crime Report show that almost two-thirds (63%) of crime is driven by repeat and prolific offenders, with drug or alcohol addictions and local organised criminal gangs, among the main drivers of offending.

A Freedom of Information request by Co-op has highlighted that police failed to respond in 71% of serious retail crimes reported. Some forces, according to their own data, did not respond to nine in 10 serious incidents reported.

With crime often the flashpoint for attacks, assaults, abuse and anti-social behaviour, Co-op also revealed that front-line store workers had seen physical assaults increase year-on-year by almost one-third (30%) and anti-social behaviour and verbal abuse rising by a fifth (20%).

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Our members are at the sharp end, seeing crime in their communities get steadily worse. Shop theft is rising because repeat offenders and organised criminals are targeting local shops to steal goods to resell.

“This organised criminal activity exploits vulnerable people by getting them to steal to order in exchange for their next fix, funds the illegal drug trade, and harms businesses that provide essential services to communities. The police have to face up to theft, violence and anti-social behaviour in and around local shops. Cracking down on the criminals who account for the majority of this crime against our members would be the most effective way to make our communities safer.”