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Worrying 21% increase in shoplifting across Scotland – Usdaw calls for retail crime to be taken seriously

Date: 19 September 2023 Retail trade union Usdaw is deeply concerned by today’s police recorded crime statistics for Scotland showing that in the 12 months to June there was a 21% increase in shoplifting.
Usdaw’s latest annual survey of over 7,500 shopworkers found that 31% of incidents of violence, threats and abuse related to shoplifting, which is not only higher than in 2019 but also more than double the 2016 level.
Co-op has seen crime, shoplifting and anti-social behaviour jump 35% year-on-year, with more than 175,000 incidents recorded in the first six months of this year, almost 1,000 incidents every day.
Reports show that nearly two-thirds (63%) of crime is driven by repeat and prolific offenders, with drug or alcohol addictions and local organised criminal gangs among the main drivers of offending.
Tracy Gilbert - Usdaw Regional Secretary for Scotland says: “Evidence is mounting that retail crime is on the increase, especially from repeat and prolific offenders. The Scottish Retail Consortium, Association of Convenience Stores, Co-op and many other retailers are all reporting significant increases in theft from shops, which today has been confirmed by official police recorded crime statistics.
“This 21% increase in shoplifting is very concerning for our members in retail. Shoplifting is not a victimless crime, theft from shops has long been a major flashpoint for violence and abuse against shopworkers. Having to deal with repeated and persistent shoplifters can cause issues beyond the theft itself like anxiety, fear and in some cases physical harm to retail workers.
“Our annual survey found that three-quarters of retail workers suffered abuse from customers, with far too many experiencing threats and violence. Theft from shops was the trigger for nearly a third of these incidents last year. Particularly concerning is that just over half of those who did the survey said they were not confident that reporting these issues will make any difference.
“Faced with such appallingly high levels of violence and abuse much more needs to be done. There must be better coordination to ensure that government, retail employers, police and the courts work together to help protect shopworkers, giving them the respect they deserve.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 350,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades www.usdaw.org.uk
Recorded Crime in Scotland: year ending June 2023 https://www.gov.scot/news/recorded-crime-in-scotland-year-ending-june-2023
Final results of the Usdaw 2022 survey, based on 7,752 responses, show that (last year’s results in brackets): 74.26% (89%) were verbally abused, 49.25% (63%) were threatened. 7.92% (12%) had been assaulted. 40.88% said violence, threats and abuse caused them anxiety at work and 29.97% are now considering changing job. Top triggers for abuse: 34% shoplifting and armed robbery, along with 16% age-restricted sales. The full report can be found at: www.usdaw.org.uk/FFFReport2022
Usdaw’s Freedom from Fear Campaign seeks to prevent violence, threats and abuse against workers by engaging the public, shopworkers and the Government. www.usdaw.org.uk/Campaigns/...
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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