‘Epidemic’ of retail violence

Police cuts have led to more attacks on people who are working in retail

A CO-OP-funded report into crime against retail workers has found that the level of violence has reached ‘epidemic’ proportions.

The research, from criminologist Dr Emmeline Taylor, revealed: “there is a strong relationship between substance misuse, shop theft and the use of violence and aggression by drug-affected offenders who are desperate not to be detained.”

Dr Taylor’s report claims cuts to social service and police spending have contributed to a rise in violent incidents.

“It is apparent that the sanctions imposed on offenders are not working.

“They do not deter and they do not rehabilitate. Offenders themselves admit that they simply get a ‘slap on the wrist’- and that’s if they are pursued, which is increasingly unlikely.”

Jo Whitfield, retail chief executive at the Co‑op said: “I’ve worked in retail businesses for more than 20 years and I’ve never seen such high levels of violence and abuse.”

The report makes several recommendations, including a review of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act, introduced in 2014.

It says that the bill has made monetary value the focus of sentences, leaving people to steal “with relative impunity so long as they stay below the £200 threshold.”