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How can we support independent retailers with the impact of retail crime? Open Letter from Peter Batt & Victoria Lockie

The plight of retail crime has been rightly pushed to the top of the news agenda in recent months, led brilliantly by the Co-op and Nisa. And as the Government’s Crime and Justice bill is debated, and USDAW’s Respect for Shopworkers Week approaches, the issue of how we help retailers feel safe is once again in the spotlight – especially pertinent to the 33,500 independent retailers up and down the country.

The Co-op’s recent report on retail crime highlighted some significant challenges, with the appropriate authorities failing to respond in over 70% of serious retail crimes reported.

Our teams hear on a weekly basis from retailers dealing with the ongoing challenge of shoplifting, and the impact that is having both financially and on their own wellbeing. Nisa retailer Ben Selvaratnam, owner of Freshfields Market in Croydon, a family run store, told us that shoplifting has become such an issue that they are targeted by three to 10 thefts or attempted thefts a day, costing
him hundreds of pounds a week.


Stories like Ben’s are sadly not isolated; and the impact of retail crime is particularly tough for independent retailers, many of whom are open longer hours and can’t afford to hire professional security. These horrific incidents have a long-lasting impact on businesses and a negative impact for the community overall.

It was positive, therefore, to see Policing Minister Chris Philp respond to these challenges by announcing a Retail Crime Action Plan, committing to tackle shoplifting, catch more offenders and keep retail workers safe.

And while the national action plan is a welcome step - not least the commitments to prioritise urgent attendance at the scene of shoplifting involving violence against a shop worker – we hope the plight of independent retailers is given as much consideration as the larger organisations.

If we are going to tackle this issue seriously, we need to all retailers, including independent retailers running their own stores, can feel safe simply doing their job.

So, as we support USDAW’s efforts this week to continue the conversation around respect for shopworkers, big and small, I’d urge independent retailers to ensure they are reporting crime, to give themselves the best chance of police action – and I’d urge the police to ensure independent retailers are not left behind in the race to tackle retail crime.

Independent retailers are the beating hearts of high streets across the country, and if we want to ensure they are still there for the communities they serve, then action needs to be taken now.

Peter Batt, Nisa’s Managing Director
Victoria Lockie, Nisa’s Head of Retail