Rod Addy
Food and drink retailers saw robbery rates double last year, according to the British Retail Consortium's ninth retail crime survey.
Figures rose from eight robberies per 100 stores in 2000 to 16 in 2001. Incidents of physical violence against food and drink retail staff increased from four to six per 1,000 staff over the year.
BRC director general Bill Moyes said small to medium size businesses still suffered the most from crime.
However, the cost of crime prevention for retailers overall fell from £762m to £608m, helped by a massive £2.7bn spent on crime prevention strategies in the last five years. The costs of retail crime as a proportion of turnover also decreased.
Recorded cases of customer theft, staff theft, burglary, criminal damage, till snatches and fraud all fell, although arson rates remained the same.
Moyes said Retail Community Crime Reduction Partnerships had helped to reduce retail crime by more 30% in some areas through technology such as CCTV and police databases.
He said government retail crime spending fell in 2001 and he called for renewed support: "We fund the 250 retail crime partnerships through membership subscriptions ­ there is no government funding.
"The government has made it clear that crime reduction is everyone's business. If this is so it needs to meet business part way and demonstrate a practical commitment we do not see at present."
BRC assistant director of crime policy Michael Schuck agreed: "Any long-term national strategy must have the support of the government including help to fund the locally and regionally run retail crime prevention partnerships."
The BRC's National Retail Crime Database goes live in August. Hosted by credit card fraud prevention firm Retail Decisions, it will supply up-to-date information to help benchmark performance and improve funding for crime reduction initiatives. It took two years to develop and will be taken up by eight retailers initially, including Tesco.

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