Knife crime is a “significant concern” retail businesses say, as it is revealed that 115 shop employees are attacked at work every day.
The British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) annual Retail Crime Survey found that knives “are seen as the most significant type of weapon” used in these attacks.
The survey recorded more than 42,000 violent incidents involving retail workers, noting that weapons are being used for both high and low value thefts.
Racially aggravated attacks and gang-related incidents also rose, the report found.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British retail consortium, writes in the foreword of the report: “Violence against employees is one of the most pressing issues retailers face, and yet again we have seen in increase in the overall number of incidents… incidents are becoming more severe, with weapons, particularly knives, posting a more significant threat than before.”
The report states the total cost of crime and crime prevention for retailers was £1.9bn last year, up 12% from the previous year (£1.7bn). This figure is equivalent to around 20% of the estimated profits of the entire retail industry.
Investment in preventing crime made up £1bn of this figure, while £900m is lost as a direct cost of retail crime.
Ms Dickinson has called on the police to do more to tackle violence against retail employees and for Parliament to “play it’s part”.
She said: “No one should go to work fearing threats and abuse… We hope this report will act as a catalyst for police and crime commissioners around the country to take action.
“Retail crime should be explicitly addressed by police and crime plans.
“Furthermore, parliament must play its part in stemming this tide of crime by creating a specific criminal offence to protect retail employees from assault at work, as has been done for emergency workers.”
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Paddy Lillis, general secretary for the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, said: “It is time for the government to act by providing stiffer penalties for those who assault workers.”
Additionally, the report found nearly 80% of the retailers surveyed have seen an increase in the number of cyber attacks.
The BRC Retail Crime Survey covers the period from 1st April 2017 to 31st March 2018 and includes the responses of surveys who collectively control 11,000 stores and £103 billion of turnover, equivalent to just under one-third of the retail market.
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