In February 2017, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) published the findings of its annual Retail Crime Survey (2016). The survey sample covered 35% of staff in the retail industy.

The report identifies a significant rise in violence against staff: 

"Retail staff continue to suffer unacceptable levels of violence and abuse, which rose by 40% since last year. Incidence of violence against staff has therefore increased significantly, with the biggest increase in aggressive and abusive behaviour. In 2015-16, there were 51 incidents of violence and abuse per 1000 staff."

"Whilst the pattern is not uniform - some retailers have seen incidence of violence fall - the overall picture is concerning. Several factors are seen to account for this unfortunate situation; amongst them, an inconsistent police response to even this form of retail crime means that deterrence is seen to be failing, as there is a growing sense that offenders are able to act with impunity."

"The connection between violence and abuse against colleagues and the rising level of shoplifting should also not be underestimated; a large proportion of aggressive incidents are thought to be linked to the act of shoplifting, and abuse is particularly likely to occur when a confrontation takes place around an attempted theft."

"The perception of a lack of punishment for shoplifting is an aggravating factor for the violence and abuse that retailers are experiencing. This sort of crime is never acceptable and the BRC will place a strong emphasis in 2017 on the development of a partnership, multi-agency approach to this problem."

"Attacks on retail workers are intolerable"

The BRC website includes the following statement from Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the BRC: 

“These figures reflect a deeply concerning trend. Attacks on retail workers are intolerable, as are attempts to defraud customers."

“Retailers are doing everything possible to ensure that staff members and customers are safe and protected. But this rising tide should be stemmed through even stronger cooperation between industry, the government, law enforcement and the private security industry. There is work to do to further improve collaboration between the UK retail industry and its partners, and raise standards of security and policing of these threats across the country.”

Sources:

2016 Retail Crime Survey

BRC website