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Tackling retail crime a priority, says Policing Minister

Posted on in Business News , Cycles News

The Policing Minister Chris Philp has said that tackling retail crime is a priority.

As part of The Federation of Independent Retailers’ political engagement strategy and commitment to raising awareness in the government of the scale of retail crime, national president Jason Birks wrote to the Minister in December, inviting him to attend a meeting of the All-Party Parliament Group on Retail Crime to hear first-hand the true extent of such crimes and the impact they have on victims.

In his letter, Mr Birks called on Mr Philp to consider installing a swifter, more purposeful reporting mechanism and to encourage a better response to retail crime from police forces. He also called for victim impact statements to be made available to all if a case goes to court.

Mr Birks said: “The failure to protect retailers has undermined confidence in both the police and the criminal justice system. The refusal to attend incidences that are deemed as low value or to have measured insufficient ‘threat’ levels have left retailers frustrated, as repeat offenders seem to steal and threaten with impunity.

“Low value theft creates a larger financial impact on our members. Failure to offer a victim statement usually worsens the situation, as victims are denied the opportunity to explain the impact an offence has had on them personally and the impact on the business which they’ve spent years building up.
“Retail crime is not a victimless crime, and all victims should be offered the opportunity to complete victim and business impact statements.”

In his reply, Mr Philp said: “I am committed to keeping our retail environments safe by driving down crime in retail settings, including violence and abuse towards shop staff.

“Shops are the lifeblood of our communities and neighbourhoods, and retail workers have the right to feel safe at work. As you know, I chair the National Retail Crime Steering Group (NRCSG), which is a valuable forum for understanding the crime concerns of the sector and bringing together Government, policing, and the sector to ensure we can work together to tackle crime.

“I take the issue of violence and abuse against retail workers seriously and I am clear that any assault on any worker, particularly those providing a service to the public, is unacceptable.”

Mr Philp confirmed that he believes all victims of retail crime should be offered the opportunity to complete victim and business impact statements.

He said: “The use of victim impact statements is crucial in capturing the impact on the victim themselves, but also the impact on the business as a whole or other colleagues who may be affected by witnessing a crime.

“Reporting crime to the police is the first crucial step in ensuring an appropriate police response. Shop theft, particularly when committed by prolific offenders, is most effectively tackled when retailers and local policing teams work together, for example through Business Crime Reduction Partnerships (BCRP) and other initiatives to share information about crime.

“I encourage retailers to join their local BCRP or Business Improvement District (BID) to support local community efforts to reduce crimes like shoplifting. Partnership working between retailers and the police is important to help ensure an effective response to crimes reported.”
He added: “I hope this response reassures you that the Government is working hard to tackle the issue of retail crime and I look forward to continuing to work together to keep our retail environments safe and drive down retail crime.

Mr Birks said: “It is encouraging to hear that the minister is aware of the growing problem of retail crime and that he intends to take action to tackle it.

“However, actions speak louder than words, and we will keep up the pressure on MPs, police and crime commissioners and the police to do more to eradicate retail crime.”

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