The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has urged the Government to take action to ensure police forces are adequately resourced to deal with crime following publication of the Home Affairs Committee’s report into policing.
ACS figures show that over three quarters of retailers are concerned about the response from police when crimes are committed against their business.
The report, ‘Policing for the Future’, which has been taking evidence on the changing demands of policing, states: ‘Policing is struggling to cope in the face of changing and rising crimes, as a result of falling staff numbers, outdated technology, capabilities and structures, and fragmented leadership and direction. Without significant reform and investment, communities will be increasingly let down.’
Findings in the report include:
- crimes including robbery, theft and vehicle related theft have been increasing sharply after a long period of crime;
- recorded crimes have risen by 32% in the last three years, while the number of charges/summons has decreased by 26%; and
- neighbourhood policing has been cut by over 20% since 2010.
Research conducted by ACS earlier this year shows that 82% of retailers are concerned about the consistency of the response from police, with 73% dissatisfied with the time taken for the police to respond to incidents. The 2018 ACS Crime Report shows that the number of incidents of theft in the convenience sector rose from 575,000 in 2017 to 950,000 in 2018.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The Home Affairs Committee report highlights the significant pressures that police forces are under to deal with the rising levels of crime. Convenience stores are an all-too frequent target for robberies, theft, verbal abuse, ram raids and attacks on retailers and staff. If a crime is committed, the police must respond and investigate, and the courts must pass an effective sentence.
“We need a collaborative approach to ensure that crimes are being dealt with properly rather than being ‘screened out’ or ignored. This means beat police officers, neighbourhood policing teams, police and crime commissioners, the courts and rehabilitation programmes all playing their part. Retailers are investing record amounts in crime prevention measures, but they must be supported by the police and the justice system.”
Yvette Cooper, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “Police officers across the country are performing a remarkable public service in increasingly difficult circumstances, but forces are badly overstretched. Crime is up, charges and arrests are down, and the police service is struggling to respond effectively to emerging and growing challenges, such as online fraud and online child abuse. Policing urgently needs more money. The Government must make sure policing is a priority in the Budget and Spending Review, or public safety and communities will pay the price.”