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Shoplifting rise addressed by Retail Crime Action Plan

Posted: 2 May 2024

By Greg Pitcher

A fresh government crackdown on retail crime includes moves to make it easier for small shops to report the activity.

Ministers said a pilot initiative would use technology designed to help independents who struggle with the time and resources to notify police of incidents.  

Meanwhile, new laws will make assaulting a shop worker a standalone criminal offence carrying up to six months in jail.

This would typically see offenders banned from specific premises on conviction, and electronically tagged after their third sentence.

The Retail Crime Action Plan also includes a pilot of monitoring criminals through curfews and exclusion zones alongside rehabilitation and community sentences.

Technology will also be used to prevent crime through facial recognition, under the proposals, while insurers will be encouraged to innovate to tackle the activity.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak said: “Our local shops are the lifeblood of our communities, and they must be free to trade without the threat of crime or abuse.”

Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of the British Independent Retails Association, welcomed the new shop worker assault law, adding: “We are dealing with a significant increase in retail crime.”

A survey conducted by the organisation in March found that more than a third of respondents had experienced verbal abuse within their shop. Almost one in 12 shopkeepers had experienced physical abuse including threats with weapons such as needles, knives and even a hammer. Goodacre added: “Retail crime not only inflicts financial losses but also poses a grave threat to the safety and wellbeing of staff.”

This article first appeared in the May 2024 edition of Fine Food Digest .