The Stop Shop Theft campaign, launched today by groups including the ACS, the BRC and the British Independent Retail Association, as well as trade union Usdaw, is calling on every PCC in England and Wales to commit to delivering the Retail Crime Action Plan in their areas.
The crime crackdown, which was published by the National Police Chiefs’ Council in October, sets out how police should respond to and investigate thefts from retail businesses, such as prioritising attendance at the scene of crimes where violence has been used.
As part of the campaign, the groups are also lobbying for easier methods of reporting shop theft, and a single point of contact for all retailers to be established.
It comes as new figures from the ACS’ Voice of Local Shops Survey of over 1,200 retailers revealed theft reached a new record high in November 2023.
It found that 38% of independent retailers reported levels of theft had increased over the past year, compared with 8% of retailers who said theft had decreased.
This marks the highest result in the survey’s history, which has been tracking shop theft since 2012. The previous record was set in May of this year. Challenging thieves is also the top trigger of abuse and violence in store, according to the ACS Crime Report 2023.
“These shocking figures show that shop theft is still getting worse for independent retailers across the UK, despite millions being invested in crime prevention and detection measures,” said ACS CEO James Lowman.
“Prolific offenders are stealing on a regular basis without fear of being caught because they know that the police are unlikely to be able to attend.”
BRC CEO Helen Dickinson said: “Shoplifting is not a victimless crime – it costs retailers, and ultimately customers, almost £1bn a year, money that would be better used to reduce prices for everyone.
“More importantly, it is a major trigger for the abuse and assault of retail workers, of which there are over 850 incidents a day. Retailers are working hard, trying to tackle this issue, spending hundreds of millions on security staff, CCTV, security tags, and other anti-crime measures. We need the police to urgently give retail crime greater prioritisation.”
BIRA CEO Andrew Goodacre added: “Retail crime is having a detrimental impact on large and small retailers alike and is becoming worse. Every PCC in the UK must have retail crime on their agenda and work together in a cohesive way to address the problem.
“It is not just theft – it is also about the abuse experienced by hard-working employees and the fact that high streets are less safe with the level of crime. Retail crime harms people, business owners and communities.”