Calls for Government action as report shows big rise in violence
The majority of UK retailers do not believe the present level of policing can protect them from crime, a report from insurer AXA shows. According to the study, 58 per cent of shop owners and managers believe the Government has overlooked retail crime and 64 per cent said there were not enough police on the streets to deal with the problem.

The report comes as the Government faces criticism from other political parties over a recorded 9 per cent rise in violent crime in the final quarter of last year, revealed by the British Crime Survey yesterday. Labour has pledged to introduce a bill to combat violent crime specifically, if re-elected. The Conservatives have pledged to put more police on the beat, reduce paperwork and introduce tougher sentences.

However, 21 per cent of retailers in AXA's survey said a greater police presence would not make a difference to crime in their stores. The preferred response was tougher sentences to deter criminals, with 42 per cent calling for longer custodial sentences.

British Retail Consortium director-general Kevin Hawkins welcomed the results and called for the Government and police to do more to protect retailers from crime.

He said: 'Last year, retailers doubled their expenditure on crime prevention methods and, most worryingly, our own evidence shows that violence against staff rose substantially. Retailers face enormous challenges that have a devastating impact on staff well-being and business viability.'