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Retail crime costs industry £2bn

Retail crime is costing the industry 20% of its annual profits, or £1.9bn a year, a report by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has found.

Crime and crime prevention cost the retail industry 12% more in the last financial year than the year before, the annual Retail Crime Survey has revealed.

Losses from customer theft rose 31% to £700m.

Of those surveyed, 70% regarded the police response to retail crime as “poor” or “very poor”. It noted that 115 retail employees are attacked at work every day. Knife crime was also highlighted as a growing concern.

Chief executive of the BRC Helen Dickinson said: “Violence against employees remains one of the most pressing issues retailers face, yet once again we have seen an increase in the overall number of incidents.

“The spiralling cost of retail crime – both in losses and the cost of prevention – are a huge burden to a retail sector that is already weighed down by the twin challenges of skyrocketing business costs and Brexit uncertainty.

“We hope this report will act as a catalyst for police and crime commissioners around the country to take action. Retail crime should be explicitly addressed by police and crime plans. Furthermore, parliament must play its part in stemming this tide of crime by creating a specific criminal offence to protect retail employees from assault at work, as has been done for emergency workers.” 

General secretary for the trade union of shop workers, USDAW, Paddy Lillis said: “It is time for the government to act by providing stiffer penalties for those who assault workers: a simple standalone offence that is widely recognised and understood by the public, police, CPS [Crown Prosecution Service], the judiciary and most importantly criminals.

“Shop workers are on the frontline of helping to keep our communities safe – they have a crucial role that must be valued and respected.”

The survey also covered cyber-security, and found that nearly 80% of respondents have experienced an increase in cyber-attacks. The BRC is working with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to allow retailers to share threat intelligence and access better resources. 

Director of engagement at NCSC, Clare Gardiner, said: “The NCSC is committed to helping to improve the UK’s cyber security, which is why we have worked in partnership with the BRC to produce its Cyber Security Toolkit.

“Organisations can also share threat intelligence in a confidential way through the NCSC’s online Cyber Information Sharing Partnership [CiSP], which increases awareness to dangers and reduces the impact on UK businesses.”

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