The vast majority of the convenience stores and local newsagents that have been referred to in the correspondence and representations I have had are one or two-person businesses, or businesses with very few staff. They also have a social function, because they keep an eye on their neighbours. If a person turns up for a bottle of milk every morning and does not on Thursday and Friday, there will be a trigger. The increase in violence and shoplifting is not acceptable, and it is driving a culture that I know the Minister abhors. The turnout in this Chamber shows that there is great concern about it. We must deal with it.
As I said earlier, that rise has happened against the backdrop of a reduction in police numbers and the response to retail theft. A key issue is that many lower-level shop theft incidents—I am not minimising their effect; I mean that they are not armed-robbery level—are fuelled by drug and alcohol addiction. The ACS said:
“Retailers perceive that 50% of the repeat offenders into shops are motivated by a drug or alcohol addiction”.
The three products targeted most by thieves in ACS stores are alcohol because it is alcohol, meat because it is expensive, and confectionary because it is the sort of thing that can be sold quickly on the streets to fuel drug or alcohol issues.