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Shoplifting up by 17% in the last 10 years - Usdaw calls for the Government to act to cut crime and protect shopworkers

Date: 18 July 2019 Shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis has called for Government action in light of the Office for National Statistics today reporting a 17% increase in police recorded incidents of shoplifting in England and Wales over the last decade.
These shocking statistics back up an Usdaw survey of 3,272 retail workers across England and Wales. Forming the basis of Usdaw’s response to last month’s Home Office ‘call for evidence’, the survey revealed:
  • 62% have been the victim of verbal or physical abuse.
  • 80% believe that abuse and violence have increased in recent years.
  • Almost a quarter describe threats of physical violence, with over half of these involving threats with weapons – most commonly knives, syringes or bottles.
  • 15% describe actual physical violence, varying from workers being pushed, spat upon, punched or kicked or attacked with weapons.
Usdaw’s full response to the Government’s ‘call for evidence’: www.usdaw.org.uk/UsdawEvidence
 
Usdaw’s call for Government action has been backed by retailers and their representative organisations. A joint letter sent last month to the Home Secretary and other Ministers called for:
  • Tougher sentences for those who attack shopworkers.
  • Change to the out of court disposals system (e.g. fixed penalty notices) which is failing to have an impact on reoffending.
  • A full review into the response of police forces to incidents of violence in the retail sector.
The full letter can viewed at: www.usdaw.org.uk/RetailViolenceLetter
 
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Shoplifting is not a victimless crime, with theft from shops often triggering violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers. The rising trend in shoplifting is extremely worrying for our members, even though figures from last year suggest the trend may be levelling off. However we believe that police recorded incidents under-estimate the scale of the problem because of significant under-reporting of incidents.
 
“The evidence from retailers, police and our own survey of shopworkers all show a disturbing increase in retail crime. This cannot be allowed to continue, action must be taken.
 
“We have long been concerned that theft from shops is not taken seriously and sometimes regarded as a victimless crime with only large companies affected, but the reality for shopworkers is very different. Police resources are so stretched we’ve heard some chief constables reporting that their officers can no longer attend theft from shops incidents and they are asking shopworkers to detain shoplifters.
 
“Life on the frontline of retail can be pretty tough for many shopworkers, there needs to be government action to protect them. The police must have the resources from Government to respond to incidents and investigate shop thefts. We want the Government to legislate for stiffer sentences for the thugs that attack shopworkers.
 
“We want to see retailers, police and the courts working in partnership to ensure better protection for shopworkers. Retail staff are an important part of our communities; their role must be valued, respected and protected.”
 
Notes for editors:
 
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 410,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
 
Police recorded crimes in England and Wales – released 18 July 2019:
https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/bulletins/crimeinenglandandwales/yearendingmarch2019
 
Usdaw survey of violence and abuse against shop staff full report: www.usdaw.org.uk/2018FFFReport
 
For Usdaw press releases visit: www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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