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29% increase in shoplifting in the last 10 years - Usdaw calls for Government action to cut crime and protect shopworkers

Date: 25 April 2019 Shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis has called for Government action in light of the Office for National Statistics today reporting a 29% increase in police recorded incidents of shoplifting in England and Wales over the last decade.
Usdaw’s Freedom From Fear Survey shows that during 2018: Nearly two-thirds of shopworkers experienced verbal abuse, over 40% were threatened by a customer, with over 280 assaulted every day. After a large increase in 2017, this represents a further increase in incidents against shopworkers. The Usdaw survey also found that the top trigger for violence, threats and abuse is shop theft.
Crime surveys from both the British Retail Consortium and Association of Convenience Stores show that the police are still not capturing the full extent of the problem.
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “The idea that shoplifting is a victimless crime is wrong. Theft from shops is often a trigger for 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 430,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 28% over the 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.
Police recorded crimes in England and Wales – released 24 January 2019:
Results of Usdaw’s 2018 survey, based on 6,725 responses, show that in 2018: 63.82% were verbally abused, 40.35% were threatened. 12.11% of shopworkers had been assaulted during their career, with 283 assaults per day during 2018.

Usdaw survey of violence and abuse against shop staff full report: www.usdaw.org.uk/2018FFFReport

For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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