Independent retailers have today (Friday) expressed dismay at a new report which they say “shines a shocking light on crime in England and Wales”.
And the NFRN – the trade body that represents 15,000 independent retailers in the UK and Ireland – says these latest figures from the Office for National Statistics demonstrate an urgent need for a stronger focus on retail crime.
According to the ONS report for the year ending September 2017 police-recorded crime increased by 14 per cent. Violent crimes have risen by 20 per cent, knife crime has increased by 21 per cent, theft offences are up 11 per cent, and fraud offences have risen by 7 per cent.
“This new crime report makes grim reading,” said NFRN National President Linda Sood. She added: “What is even worse is that these increases come at a time when high-ranking police personnel have openly stated that they will not investigate instances of shoplifting, criminal damages, thefts and other offences they consider ‘minor crimes’.
“Deputy Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons, for example, recently announced that ‘with the pressure on our resources it is not practical for our officers to spend a considerable amount of time looking into something where for example, the value of damage or the item stolen is under £50’.”
Similarly, Paddy Tipping, the elected police and crime commissioner in Nottinghamshire, stated: “We will do our best with the resources we have got. Is shoplifting as important as investigating a serious sexual assault? It is not. […] So there are jobs that we do at the moment that will have to take a lower priority. If people report shoplifting will the police come? Probably not.”
Mrs Sood continued: “Behind every independent retailer is a family business that gives back to their neighbourhood and contributes to the variety, vibrancy and value of the communities that make up our country. These people have a right to feel safe in their stores.
“We will, therefore, be making a renewed push to bring retail crime further up the agenda of the various parliaments.”
On February 20 the NFRN is holding its annual parliamentary reception on the terrace of the House of Commons which gives members the opportunity to make the MPs and Lords attending aware of the issues facing independent retailers.
“A commitment to tackling retail crime once and for all will be one of the solutions we will be seeking. And as many instances of violence and abuse arise when identification is requested ahead of selling an age-restricted product we will be pushing for legislation that makes this a specific offence.” Mrs Sood concluded.