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Usdaw welcomes fall in shop crime and increased investment by retailers in crime prevention

Date: 17 January 2011 The shopworkers Union Usdaw has welcomed the overall fall in shop crime and the increased investment by retailers in crime prevention recorded by the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC’s) annual survey of retail crime which was published today.

The BRC reports an 11% reduction in the number of criminal offences in the retail sector in 2010, with reported incidents of violence, threats and abuse against shop staff down by 50% and incidents of shoplifting down by 10.6%.
However, despite the fall in recorded incidents and a year on year downward trend, the BRC says there is still a massive problem of under-reporting of offences in the sector. Only 12% of incidents of shoplifting were reported to the Police and the BRC believe that shopworkers increasingly regard violence and abuse as ‘part of the job’, letting many incidents go unreported.
According to the survey, retailers spent over £210 million on crime prevention measures last year, a 10% increase on 2009. While this investment appears to have reduced the number of incidents, the BRC estimates that the annual cost of retail crime remains at £1.1 billion.
John Hannett, Usdaw General Secretary said:
“Usdaw works closely with employers to improve workplace safety and we welcome the increased investment retailers are making to protect their staff and property. The downward trend in the number of recorded incidents in the survey is also very encouraging.”
“However, Usdaw agree with the BRC that there remains a significant problem of under-reporting which is driven by the myth that shop crime is ‘victimless’ and the belief shared by many shopworkers that little if any effective action will be taken against perpetrators. Shop crime is not victimless, our own annual survey showed that last year more than a million shopworkers were abused, threatened or assaulted at work.”
“While shoplifting is a major flashpoint for violence, our members suffer most abuse and threats when asking for proof of age ID from customers buying age-restricted products such as alcohol. Many customers simply don’t know or won’t accept that shopworkers have to ask for ID to avoid fines, criminal prosecution and even losing their jobs.”
“Usdaw is lobbying government to improve the regulation of age-restricted products and we will continue to work closely with the BRC, Police and other agencies to reduce all incidents of shop crime, to create safer workplaces and to ensure offenders are brought to justice.”
Notes for Editors:

  1. The BRC’s Retail Crime Survey 2010 can be found at: http://www.brc.org.uk/downloads/BRC_Retail_Crime_Survey_2010.pdf 
  2. Further information on Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear Campaign against violence, threats and abuse of shopworkers can be found at: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/ourcampaigns/freedomfromfear.aspx 
  3. Usdaw (the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK’s fourth biggest trade union, with over 395,000 members. Usdaw is the country’s fastest growing trade union; membership has increased by more than 15% in the last four years and by over a quarter in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers