Shop crimes go unreported as retailers lose faith in police

18 April, 2008

Retailers are failing to report crimes because they do not have faith in police responses, says a survey by the British Chambers of Commerce.

The Forum of Private Business has warned that soaring crime levels could cause many small shops to close, with devastating effects for the communities they serve.

According to Home Office statistics, the total cost of crime against businesses has increased by almost 20% since 2004 – from £10.5 billion to £12.6 billion.

But 28% of firms – double the number in 2004 – have not reported all the crimes

committed against them in the past 12 months.

While 36% of businesses which took part in the survey claimed they would not report an incident due to lack of confidence in a suitable police response, 68%

suggested they would consider not reporting a crime if there was only a relativelysmall loss or damage to their premises. Most (56%) are not confident

the police understand the issues they face, and 68% believe the police are not

adequately tackling crime against businesses.

Sheffield drinks retailer John Mitchell has experienced two recent crimes in which he feels he was let down by police.

“Three weeks ago a guy walked straight into the shop, grabbed a £300 bottle of

Champagne and said ‘don’t try to stop me’,” he said. “We have made a still from

the video and members of the public have identified him, but the police haven’t

done anything. It’s just a complete waste of time.”

Mitchell said a customer who threatened staff with a bottle after being told he

was barred was not arrested, despite waiting at a nearby bus stop when police

responded to the panic alarm. “The police came and wanted me to make a statement,” he said. “By the time they had taken my date of birth he was gone. Yet if my staff make two mistakes with underage sales they’ll take my licence off me.”

FBP chief executive Phil Orford said: “We need a more visible, proactive police

presence. There must also be a change in the culture of not reporting crimes so the perpetrators stand a greater chance of being caught and are prevented from reoffending.”

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