Britain’s local shops have been the victim of more than 50,000 incidents of violence during the past year, according to new figures from the Association of Convenience Stores’ 2020 Crime Report.
The Crime Report, being launched this week, provides evidence of the scale and impact of theft, violence, abuse and other crimes committed against convenience store retailers and their staff, setting out a clear vision for how the Government and the justice system can take action.
The impact of the financial cost of crime committed against the sector cannot be underestimated, says the report. Over the past year, local shops have lost out to the tune of over £211m as a direct result of crime, despite investment of £209m in crime-prevention measures like CCTV, cash- handling systems and external security. In practical terms, the £211m lost last year to criminal activity equates to a 7p ‘crime tax’ on every transaction in a convenience store.
The ACS says thousands of local shops operate on very tight margins, so losses caused by crimes, especially serious incidents like robbery or burglary, can be devastating, an the consequences of losing a local shop are felt by the whole community.
The biggest contributor to the cost of crime as shown in this year’s Crime Report is theft. In the past year, there have been over 1.1 million thefts, mostly committed by repeat offenders that are stealing to fund addiction and other criminal activity.
By far the most damaging aspect of crime is the impact it has on the people working in and running local shops - 83% of people who work in the convenience sector have been subjected to verbal abuse over the past year, and 50,000 people have been the victims of violence, one in four of which results in injury.
Criminals are brandishing knives, axes, hammers, syringes and even firearms as part of robberies, burglaries and other violent incidents against people that are just trying to do their job.
The landscape of criminal activity committed against people working in and running convenience stores is getting worse, not better. As part of the 2020 Crime Report, ACS has set out five areas where the Government and justice system can take action to better support the convenience sector.
These actions are: Support local shops in investing in crime prevention equipment; conduct a proper review of the Out of Court Disposals (OOCD) system to better address the root causes of offending; tougher penalties for attacks on shopworkers; continued funding and support for the National Business Crime Centre; ensure that Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) recognise retail crime in their local plans.
On the launch of the report, ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Local shops employ around 405,000 people. None of those people should come to work expecting to deal with abuse, threats of violence, attacks or having a weapon put in their face, but that is the reality they face. This isn’t ‘low-level’ crime, this is a progressively violent cycle of reoffending that is taking an enormous toll on Britain’s local shops. Our Crime Report is a wake up call for Government and the rest of the justice system to deal with repeat offenders, help shops to invest in crime prevention measures themselves, and prioritise responding to crime at a local level.”