New crime figures from the British Retail Consortium on violence against shop staff make depressing reading. They show violent acts against staff are up 50% in the past year and the number of incidents per store has risen 18%. Last year, retail employees were subjected to about half a million incidents of abuse or violence in the workplace. Our survey paints a more encouraging picture, with only 10% of respondents saying they had experienced any serious crime in their stores over the past 12 months. However, many retailers fear they could face more serious crime because of the increase to 18 of the legal age for smoking, which could put staff at risk from youngsters. They also feel too little is being done to tackle crime. "When the smoking age was 16 I had to turn many customers away because they didn't have ID and this will only increase now that the age has risen to 18," says one independent. "I get a bit of lip from the odd youngster and occasionally they get quite abusive, and these are just 14 and 15-year-olds, so I dread to think how 17 year-olds are going to react." "We don't get a lot of help from the police," adds another. "We get into trouble if we sell products to people that are underage but we also get into trouble if we don't, and more often than not the police are slow to do anything. My staff have had abuse for refusing to serve customers but nothing is really done about it." Retailers have already taken steps to combat crime, with 90% of those asked already using CCTV. "We couldn't afford not to have CCTV," says one. "The cameras and TV screens in our shop are used more as a deterrent than anything else and they certainly cut down on levels of shoplifting." A quarter of respondents say they have had to install more security measures, however. Some have installed pull- down metal covers for their windows at night while others have improved lighting in their stores and installed mirrors to remove any blind spots. Many stores also operate a policy where on weekdays they don't allow more than two or three schoolchildren into the shop at any one time. "It can be quite difficult to enforce when the kids try and come through the doors all at once but incidents of crime have dropped by doing so," says one retailer. "Not encouraging lots of children into our store means they don't tend to hang around outside either," says another. "Other shoppers aren't intimidated as a result and we get more passing trade in the afternoon."