With retail crime soaring across the country, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) last week wrote to Mayors and Police and Crime Commissioners across the UK to ask them to do more to protect retail workers. 

This comes as new research by the BRC reveals that incidents of theft have increased by 27% across ten of the largest cities in the UK, with some cities up as much as 68%. The nature of these crimes has changed, with perpetrators becoming bolder, and many retailers reporting increasing links to organised-crime activity. 

This builds on the findings of the BRC’s most recent crime survey – which showed incidents of violence and abuse against retail employees almost doubling on pre-pandemic levels. Incidents, which include racial and sexual abuse, physical assault, and threats with weapons, have risen from the pre-Covid high of over 450 per day in 2019/20, to over 850 per day last year. 

To tackle this issue, we need action. We need local Governments across the country to ensure retail crime is a clear priority in local policing strategies. This must be backed up by the necessary resources to effectively tackle retail crime.  

The BRC have long campaigned for a standalone offence for violence against retail workers, and, in 2022, helped to secure an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act to protect retail workers. The BRC is now calling on the UK government to improve reporting around the amendment, to better understand its impact. 

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: 

“Every time I speak with retailers, crime is getting worse. Thieves are becoming bolder, and more aggressive. Violence and abusive behaviour are on the rise. Many employees are facing threats with weapons, physical assault, and racial and sexual abuse. While these confrontations might be over in a matter of minutes, for many victims, their families and colleagues, the physical and emotional impact can last a lifetime. Retailers are playing their part, investing nearly £1bn into crime prevention measures in the past year alone. But more needs to be done. We know that Andy Burnham and Kate Green will be concerned about the impact of such crime on local retail workers, so we ask them to ensure Manchester’s police force is giving retail crime the focus and resources it so desperately needs. Everyone working in Manchester deserves the right to go to work without fear and we must all help in stamping out this scourge of crime once and for all.”