BSIA back police and retailer led crime reduction initiative

Friday 09 February 2024 -

Over the last few years there has been a significant rise in shoplifting, with the latest figures from the British Retail Consortium's Crime Survey recording a significant rise in incidents of shoplifting, including physical assault and threats with weapons.  Retailers are being targeted by prolific offenders and Organised Crime Groups, with offenders stealing to finance their addictions or for the opportunity of financial gain.

There has also been an increase in the use of violence when offenders are detained or confronted by shop workers or security officers.

A potential contributing factor to the increase in shoplifting is the inconsistent response from the police. Crime against retailers is often seen as a low priority offence, not taken seriously. Co-op stores have reported police don't attend 71% of serious incidents; others have low confidence in reporting due to no response and slow attendance.

In response to this, the UK Government, working with the police, have launched Pegasus; this is a police unit funded by a small number of large retailers to target prolific offenders and organised crime groups and has been created out of the work done by the Retail Crime Advisory Group, a collaboration of retail and police representatives and some private security companies. In addition to this a new Police Action plan was also unveiled, by the National Police Chiefs' Council, which addresses many of the concerns raised regarding police response.

Some examples of positive steps contained within the plan, include police attendance to every violent incident in a store, detainment of thieves, and preservation of evidence.

While the plan is seen as a positive step, there are some challenges ahead.

Some retailers have adopted a hands-off approach, choosing not to detain shoplifters due to concerns for staff and customer safety, lack of detention facilities, and slow police response.

The industry has an opportunity to track the progress of Pegasus, the implementation of the action plan and support its delivery.  BSIA members Mitie, who have been heavily involved in supporting and monitoring these changes, have also reached out to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Future of Retail to explain our role in the fight against retail crime with a view to taking the discussions further.

The BSIA will be encouraging its members to support in promoting this initiative and will continue to update on further progress as this develops.