LONDON, Oct 1 (Reuters) – Some 88 UK retail leaders, including Tesco bosses (TSCO.L)Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L) and Marks & Spencer (MKS.L)have signed a letter addressed to the Minister of the Interior, Suella Braverman, demanding action in the face of increasing crime rates in retail trade.
Rising crime is increasingly becoming a political issue in Britain ahead of national elections scheduled for 2024.
Industry lobby group British Retail Consortium (BRC) said its 2023 crime survey showed incidents of violence and abuse towards retail workers almost doubled compared to pre-pandemic levels to 867 incidents every day in 2021. /22.
It also estimated the scale of retail theft at £953 million ($1.2 billion), despite more than £700 million in crime prevention spending by retailers.
“The situation has clearly worsened; a separate survey of BRC members in 2023 found that shoplifting levels in 10 major cities had increased by an average of 27%,” he said.
Ahead of the start of the ruling Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester on Sunday, the letter outlines two demands from the retail industry to the government.
He wants the government to create a separate offense of assault or abuse of a retail worker, with tougher sentences for offenders. This would require police forces to record all incidents of retail crime.
The industry also wants police forces across the UK to give retail crime a higher priority.
“It is time for the government to put words into action,” said Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive.
Earlier this month, John Lewis Partnership, owner of Waitrose department stores and supermarkets, said Britain was seeing a “epidemic” from shoplifting, with its own “losses”, mainly theft, of £12 million in the first half.
Similarly, clothing chains Primark (ABF.L) and then (NXT.L) said its profit margins had been hit by a rise in theft, while supermarket Tesco said rising crime in stores had led it to offer body cameras to its staff. Discounter Aldi is also testing them.
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Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Alison Williams
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