Retail crime is at a ten year high* – partly as a result of more accurate reporting. We’ve seen eight years of budget cuts to Britain’s policing, a shrinking welfare state and spreading poverty. Today’s police officers are dealing with more complex crimes as well as tackling rises in knife and gun crime, robbery, burglary and vehicle-related crime all of which stretch their resources.
Although Co-op sees less violence against shopworkers than other retailers, we still see too many incidents. We’ve done a lot to focus on colleague welfare, a significant investment into technology such as intelligent CCTV, guarding in vulnerable stores during at risk hours and training of our colleagues. That focus and investment will continue as we recognise there’s still much to do in tackling the causes of violence against shopworkers and reducing the impact on our colleagues even further.
Retail crime is often seen as a crime against a business, rather than people. This isn’t a view we share at the Co-op. Every attack that happens in our stores is an attack on our colleagues, and sometimes the personal impact of crime can be forgotten.
We want to change that. We’re working with our recognised trade union, USDAW, and MPs to look at the underlying causes of retail crime and work out how we tackle it together.
Today Alex Norris, MP looked to the House of Commons to support tougher penalties for people who attack shopworkers when they challenge those making age-related purchases. Read more about this in Alex’s blog post.
And next week, David Hanson, MP will propose an amendment to the Bill that will make it an offence to assault, threaten or abuse a shopworker who is preventing an illegal sale of acid or knives.
We welcome these moves, as we firmly believe that tougher deterrents can go a long way to protect colleagues in our shops.
You can also show your support for the USDAW Protection of Shopworkers campaign by emailing your MP.
Retail Chief Operating Officer
*source: BRC Retail Crime Survey 2017