Retail leaders demand action on crime

Industry bodies write joint letter to MSP to take action

Retail leaders from across the channel have written a joint letter to the Scottish Government demanding urgent action against the rampant rise in retail crime.

LEADERS from across the retail channel have written a joint letter to Siobhian Brown MSP, minister for victims and community safety, to take further action against retail crime.

Signed by representatives from the Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF), Retailers Against Crime (RAC), the Co-op, the Scottish Retail Consortium, CJ Lang & Son, fashion firm River Island and Tesco, the letter highlights separate reports from across the retail channel showing the extent to which retail crime has climbed to.

The Co-op reported that the society had reported 24,000 incidents of shoplifting across its stores, 257 assaults and 8,700 incidents of verbal abuse against their staff.

Further to this, the SGF has highlighted its its own crime report which found the cost of retail crime had now climbed to an average of £12,000 per convenience store per annum.

Meanwhile, RAC has reported its members’ losses are the highest in years now, with no sign of this decreasing.

As a result, the signatories of the letter have called for the Scottish Government to implement an emergency plan of action to better protect retail staff across the country and provide adequate resources to Police Scotland and the Scottish justice system to ensure the current surge in reported crime is reversed.

Pete Cheema, chief executive at the SGF, said: “Over the past 18 months, retailers have been forced to contend with a disturbing escalation in both the volume and seriousness of incidents happening in stores, and it is only getting worse.

“People’s lives and their livelihoods are now at risk. That is why we need immediate action from the Scottish Government. There isn’t a moment to lose.

“The police and our justice system are hugely overstretched, and many of the offenders and criminal groups think they can get away with anything they like, without consequence.

“But no one should be forced to come into work and put up with stock disappearing off shelves, anti-social behaviour and even armed threats or violence.”

Maxine Fraser, managing director at RAC, said: “Along with multiple thefts being submitted from our members every day, we also receive reports of deeply distressing incidents.

“Staff being clawed and spat at, raids by organised gangs and intoxicated individuals wielding knives and other weapons. Often threatening to seriously injure or even kill staff.

“The impact on mental health and wellbeing of shop workers is also being felt by their families and the wider community. Not to mention the loss of income for businesses, damaging viability and increasing costs for customers.

“We need to see much more from the Scottish Government, more dedicated resources for the police and action taken by our courts, as well as early intervention and education programmes to turn people away from committing these crimes.”