East of England areas record another increase in shoplifting – Usdaw concerned about the impact on retail staff
Crime / Thu 1st Feb 2024 at 05:21pm
RETAIL trade union Usdaw is deeply concerned by today’s police recorded crime statistics showing that in the 12 months to September 2023 there was significant increases in shoplifting across all constabulary areas in the East of England. In the whole of England and Wales there has been a persistent upward trend since the pandemic, which continued with a 32% increase.
The Office for National Statistics released figures showing a 26% increase in shoplifting incidents across the East of England and by constabulary area as follows:
· Bedfordshire +8%
· Cambridgeshire +47%
· Essex +18%
· Hertfordshire +35%
· Norfolk +29%
· Suffolk +20%
Interim results from Usdaw’s 2023 annual survey, showing responses from over 3,000 shopworkers found that 60% of incidents of violence, threats and abuse were triggered by shoplifting and armed robbery.
Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary says: “Shoplifting is not a victimless crime, theft from shops has long been a major flashpoint for violence and abuse against shopworkers. Having to deal with repeated and persistent shoplifters can cause issues beyond the theft itself like anxiety, fear and in some cases physical harm to retail workers. This 26% increase in shoplifting across the East of England is further evidence that we are facing an epidemic of retail crime, which is hugely concerning.
“Our members have reported that they are often faced with hardened career criminals in the stores and we know that retail workers are much more likely to be abused by those who are stealing to sell goods on. Our latest survey results show that two-thirds of retail workers suffered abuse from customers, with far too many experiencing threats and violence. Theft from shops and armed robbery were triggers for 60% of these incidents.
“This Government has repeatedly failed to act in the face of an epidemic of retail crime and rising theft from shops. It is deeply disappointing that there are no measures in their legislative programme to tackle high levels of theft from shops and abuse of shopworkers. Labour has promised to plug the gap by seeking to amend the Government’s Criminal Justice Bill to strengthen the law to protect shopworkers from violence, threats and abuse.
“A protection of shopworkers law, which already exists in Scotland, would be a great start to tackling abuse of retail staff. We also welcome Labour’s other commitments to 13,000 more neighbourhood police with guaranteed patrols in town centres, respect orders to ban repeat offenders and ending the £200 threshold for investigating and prosecuting shop theft. Labour is clearly offering the change our members need.”
Zero tolerance to any crime with the courts backing up the police by handing out maximum sentences every time,