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What can supermarkets do to stem rising retail crime?

The struggle to combat retail crime rumbles on, especially as it became recently clear Tory ministers had failed to keep their promise to create a standalone offence for assaulting shopworkers.

The Grocer’s recent webinar, which focused on solutions to rising rates of supermarket crime, brought together expert minds from across the sector.

Five key points raised by the experts in the webinar, which is now available to watch on demand, were:

1. Crime is getting worse

Recent Institute of Customer Service research showed 35% of people in customer-facing roles – including those working online – witnessed a rise in abuse. However, said ICS CEO Jo Causon, “the other really worrying thing is almost 40% of people in a customer-facing role are considering if they want to work in the sector”.

Watch now: Arresting the rise of retail crime

2. There’s just not enough resource

Following a period of austerity and compounded by factors sitting behind crime, such as retracted services, pressures on Brits have been huge, said City, University of London, professor of criminology Emmeline Taylor.

“I would pinpoint pressures on police resourcing [as one reason], with huge numbers [of officers] being taken from the street. They’re really struggling to tackle high-volume crime,” said Taylor.

3. Staff need backing and support

Everyone on the panel agreed retail and government must do more to support workers and businesses alike.

Staff need more security and devices – body cameras, news shift patterns, training, etc… said Usdaw health and safety officer Tony Whelan.

4. Stronger partnerships between police and retail

The issue can’t be resolved by either party alone. All panellists, including National Police Chiefs’ Council national lead Amanda Blakeman, agreed tighter relationships and communication between law enforcement and businesses was essential. Find out how that works by viewing the webinar.

5. Rehabilitate offenders

The Co-op’s public affairs director Paul Gerrard advocated for better offender rehab, arguing criminals fall into a pattern and the issue becomes a cycle.

“Short sentences don’t work,” said Gerrard. “There must be the right mix of interventions. Sometimes custodial sentencing is right, but it needs to be mixed with other tools to help prevent reoffending, such as rehab and education, because if that doesn’t happen then behaviour doesn’t change.”