Insight: In the UK, over 100 retail workers are attacked every day

2nd November 2020

According to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) Retail Crime Survey (covering 1st April 2017 to 31st March 2018) 115 retail employees are attacked every day. 

The findings prompted the BRC to put more pressure on MPs to protect retail workers and deter criminals by introducing new proposals. The resulting Private Members’ Bill ballot therefore offers an opportunity to introduce stronger penalties for offenders attacking shop workers, whilst allowing for the review of sentencing guidelines for assault. BRC Chief Executive, Helen Dickinson, said:

“Violence against shop workers is one of the biggest concerns for retailers, with a shocking 115 attacks every day, despite record spending of nearly £1 billion on crime prevention, incidents are still on the rise. We call for a specific criminal offence to protect retail employees from attacks at work, as it has been done for emergency workers. It is unacceptable for anyone to go to work fearing threats and violence.”

A closer look at the BRC’s findings:

The number of retailers surveyed in the latest Retail Crime Survey collectively control 11,000 stores and have a turnover of £103 billion. The survey recorded more than 42,000 violent incidents involving retail workers whilst stating knives “are seen as the most significant type of weapon” used in attacks, with a rise in “more violent and frightening” incidents. Below are some of the key details at a glance:

  • Every day (including weekends) 115 retail employees are attacked, whilst many more are threatened on a daily basis.
  • Over £700 million was lost as a result of theft alone.
  • The collective spend on crime prevention and loss from crime to the retail industry was £1.9 billion.
  • Use of knives is of “significant concern”.
  • Approximately 80% of retailers surveyed describe the police response to retail crime as “poor” or “very poor”.

The costs aren’t just financial

It’s difficult to comprehend the problem by looking at the numbers alone. The BRC stated that the findings “laid bare the human cost” of retail crime. Each and every incident of violence and abuse is of course unique, however, the survey suggested several crucial triggers for violence and abuse against retail staff:

  • Deliberate use of violence to assist with theft.
  • A response to age-related sales (including when required by law).
  • Criminals intoxicated by drugs and alcohol.

The sheer volume of violence against shop workers has been backed up by the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) survey, which reports a 40% increase in violent incidents against shop workers since 2016. The union’s general secretary Paddy Lillis said:

“Life on the frontline of retail can be pretty tough for many shopworkers and there is still a lot to do to help protect them. We launched our Freedom From Fear Campaign in the face of growing concerns amongst retail staff about violence, threats and abuse”.

Enhance your data collation and communications to better protect retail staff

If you’re interesting in a solution to help deter criminal activity and protect staff within your retail stores, through incident reporting, data collation, intelligence gathering and analysis, please call us on +44 (0)1604 598999 or email us at info@zinc.systems

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