Shops in plea for protection

05 October, 2007

With assaults on shop workers up 50 per cent on last year, retailers demand action from police

Police and local authorities must do more to stamp out attacks on shop workers, say retailers and trade bodies.

Key off-trade figures have spoken out after a report from the British Retail Consortium revealed that assaults have increased by 50 per cent in the past year.

Rhythm & Booze managing director Martin Swaine called for a "consistent approach and quicker response" from police when shop crime is reported.

"For a lot of police, it comes low down on their list of priorities ," he said. "If you phone up from a shop to report a theft or an assault the response isn't always immediate. I think there can be an attitude that if it's your business, it's your responsibility to look after it."

He added that good practice - such as local responsible retailing awards - should be widespread.

Independent retailers who have been targeted by violent criminals told OLN they were disappointed by the police response. Lynne Whiteland, threatened at gun and knife point at the Hop Inn in Caversham, Berkshire, in January, said she felt "let down" by the police. "They don't seem to be able to do anything. They spend much more time on other crimes like parking tickets and speeding," she said.

John Dunn, seriously injured in an attack at The Local in Cromer, Norwich, in March, said a weak police stance on shop crime is encouraging further violence. "I could have been killed or blinded, it's scandalous. The police must raise their profile to act as a deterrent," he said.

The Co-op's national business crime partnership manager, Andrew Pope, said alliances between retailers, police and authorities are vital to crack down on retail crime. "Working with educational authorities on development and implementation of anti social behaviour, community and citizenship training packages is one example of our work. We also support the Neighbourhood Policing strategy by providing areas for police surgeries," he said.

Figures from the BRC's annual crime survey also revealed that recorded threats of violence doubled in the past year, and the number of incidents per store rose by 18 per cent during the same period.

The BRC and the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers are calling on Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to push local Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships. The Association of Chief Police Officers had not commented as OLN went to press.

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