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Cases of abuse and violence against retail staff triples during pandemic, report finds

By Huw Hughes

31 May 2022

Retail

Image: FashionUnited

Cases of abuse and violence against retail workers tripled during the pandemic, according to new data.

The number of incidents increased to 1,300 per day between 2022 and 2021, compared to 455 per day between 2019 and 2020, according to the latest crime survey by the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

While incidents soared, only 4 percent of them resulted in a prosecution, according to the survey. Additionally, 60 percent of respondents described police response to incidents as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.

The total cost of crime during the year was 1.5 billion pounds, with 663 million pounds lost to customer theft and 715 million pounds allocated to crime prevention.

“Despite retailers investing significantly in crime prevention, incidents of violence and abuse against colleagues are climbing,” said BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson.

She continued: “It is shocking that this huge rise in incidents took place in a smaller pool of stores and other locations as much of the industry was in lockdown.”

Earlier this year, the UK government introduced an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which created a statutory aggravating factor to assaults committed against those “providing a public service or performing a public duty”.

BRC