shoplifting incident

Source: Nisa

MD Peter Batt and head of retail Victoria Lockie wrote an open letter in support of Respect for Shopworkers Week

Independent retailers “must not be left behind” in the fight against retail crime, Nisa bosses have said.

In an open letter supporting Usdaw’s Respect for Shopworkers Week, Nisa MD Peter Batt and head of retail Victoria Lockie said the shoplifting scourge placed a greater burden on independents due to their longer trading hours.

“Our teams hear on a weekly basis from retailers dealing with the ongoing challenge of shoplifting, and the impact that is having both financially and on their own wellbeing,” the letter said. “These horrific incidents have a long-lasting impact on businesses and a negative impact for the community overall.”

Batt and Lockie highlighted Ben Selvaratnam, owner of Freshfields Market in Croydon, as one of the retailers impacted by the shoplifting epidemic, saying his store was targeted by up to 10 thefts or attempted thefts a day, resulting in hundreds of pounds lost a week.

The Nisa store has also had to introduce an earlier closing time, of 9pm instead of 11pm, and “doubled up staff as security guards” on certain shifts. 

Selvaratnam said: “This is an industry we love but that love is being chipped away every day by criminals who put our safety and livelihoods at risk.

“So many people would just say I don’t need this in my life. Why would I work so hard, take so much risk and try and make a living, when someone can just walk in at the end of the day and take all the money I’ve earned and walk out with it, and there will be no consequences for them?

“Until things improve, we just have to stay here and try to deal with this ourselves.”

Nisa recently welcomed the government’s new Retail Crime Action Plan, which sets out how police should respond to and investigate thefts from retail businesses. 

The letter said: “While the national action plan is a welcome step, we hope the plight of independent retailers is given as much consideration as the larger organisations.

“If we are going to tackle this issue seriously, we need all retailers, including independent retailers running their own stores, to feel safe simply doing their job.”

The Nisa bosses said it was critical retailers reported crime “to give themselves the best chance of police action”, and urged police “to not leave independents behind in the race to tackle retail crime”.

“Independent retailers are the beating hearts of high streets across the country, and if we want to ensure they are still there for the communities they serve, then action needs to be taken now,” the letter concluded.

It comes after Nisa’s parent company Co-op reported it had been subject to 300,000 incidents of shoplifting, abuse and violence this year, equating to around 1,000 incidents a day across its 2,400 stores.

Co-op revealed today that in 3,000 cases where it had detained offenders using specially trained security guards, police had failed to show up 76% of the time.