According to preliminary findings from the British Retail Consortium's annual Retail Crime Survey 90 per cent of retailers believe retail crime is low on the Government's agenda, 77 per cent are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with police response times and 5 per cent believe police treat retail crime as anything other than a low or very low priority.
BRC director-general Kevin Hawkins is calling for the Government to do more and make retail crime a priority. He said: 'Attempting to hand shoplifters over to the police has become time wasting and futile. Too often they are not interested and even when there is a successful prosecution the penalties are derisory. A lot of store managers are now resigned to the fact that their own efforts at beating the crooks will not be supported.'
Some 86 per cent of retailers believe the Government is failing to properly address the issue.
The new BRC figures come as the Sentencing Advisory Panel (SAP) consults on its widely criticised proposal to water down punishments for shoplifting, including the removal prison sentencing for even the worst repeat offenders.
SAP's research shows that 95 per cent of those convicted of shop theft had at least one conviction and, on average, each offender had been sentenced 19 times before.
The BRC said that the combination of soft penalties and poor enforcement has led to the increase in shop crime. Hawkins added: 'This is no victimless crime. Ultimately, the costs fall on honest shoppers and retailers. For some retailers, especially smaller ones, the losses may even threaten their viability. Ministers and police chiefs need to recognise retail crime has consequences. I urge them to work with retailers not abandon them.'
- Retail Week is fighting to highlight the impact of retail crime and opposing the plans to abolish custodial sentences for shoplifters. Join our fight and e-mail us your opinion to firstname.lastname@example.org.