Independent retailers in the west of England could be in line for financial help with covering the cost of new crime prevention measures.
The Metro mayor for the West of England Combined Authority, Dan Norris, has announced a new fund for retailers struggling not only with the impact of the rising tide of shop crime but also the cost of trying to stop it.
There is a total of £142,000 available, and retailers in the area which includes Bath and Bristol can apply for a 50% match funding grant up to £2,000.
The authority expects at least 70 retailers to avail of the scheme and said funds would be granted primarily on need. Factors taken into account will include the impact of crime on their business, such as the number of incidences and the socio-economic characteristic of the area the shop is located in.
The fund is part of a wider Safer Shops West scheme announced by Norris this week, and comes as ONS data shows a 41% increase in shoplifting this year across Avon and Somerset. The authority said installation of essential security measures costs independent retailers over £4,500, which was too challenging a figure for many retailers.
The grants will go towards the costs of security measures such as CCTV, screens, body cams and handheld radios.
“I have been shocked by what shopkeepers have been telling me. I knew I had to act. There is a daily battle going on with shoplifters with brazen thieves swiping high-value goods off shelves,” said Norris.
“This level of out-of-control crime is unsustainable and risks some communities losing local stores.”
Association of Convenience Stores CEO James Lowman said: “Independent convenience store retailers and their colleagues are too often the victims of shop theft and violent crime. Convenience stores across the UK invested £228m in crime prevention measures last year, but much of this would have been made by larger businesses. This funding will help small businesses to make their stores less attractive to criminals and safer for retailers and their colleagues.
“We strongly encourage retailers to apply for these West of England Mayoral Combined Authority grants to fund the right security measures for their stores, and we have free guidance to help them to identify the most effective use of these funds.”
Usdaw regional secretary for the south west Mike Walker added: “There is a retail crime crisis, with Avon and Somerset suffering a 41% increase in police-recorded incidents of shoplifting. Theft from shops has effectively been decriminalised.
“We welcome local initiatives to tackle this growing shoplifting epidemic, and the action Dan Norris is taking by introducing the ‘Safer Shops West’ initiative is much needed.”