The figures from the British Retail Consortium’s annual crime survey, also show that recorded threats of violence doubled and the number of incidents per store rose by 18 per cent during the same period.
Retailers and representatives from the Union of Shop Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) are expected to present the preliminary findings to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith at the Shop-Crime fringe meeting at the Labour Party Conference today.
USDAW general secretary John Hannett said: “We want local partnerships of retailers, shopworkers, councils and police to work together to rid our shops and shopping areas of this criminal and anti-social behaviour. This not only affects retailers and staff, but customers and the wider community as well, which makes it all the more important that we work together”.
BRC director general Kevin Hawkins echoed Hannett’s call for more to be done to protect shop workers. He said: “Last year retail employees were subjected to around half a million incidents of abuse or violence in the work place. This is not just about a cost to the bottom line. Behind these figures there is individual human pain and distress. It is unacceptable."
The BRC and USDAW are making a joint call on the Home Secretary to push local Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships to give crime against retailers and shop workers the same level of attention as they direct toward crime and antisocial behaviour in residential neighbourhoods.
Hawkins added: “In many areas local authorities and local police are treating retail crime as if it doesn’t matter. The Home Secretary must use her influence to ensure retailers and shop workers receive the same level of protection where they work as they rightfully expect at home.”