It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Wilson. First, I declare an interest as a very proud member of USDAW and the Co-op, both of which have featured quite heavily in the debate. I congratulate my very knowledgeable and right hon. Friend David Hanson on once again securing a really important debate. I will keep my remarks short to allow the Minister to answer the many varied and insightful questions that have been raised by all colleagues today.
For many years, I have been an ardent supporter of USDAW’s Freedom From Fear campaign, and I am acutely aware of the prevalence of violence committed against shop workers who are simply doing their job. USDAW’s 2018 survey showed that in the past year nearly two thirds of shop workers were verbally abused, just under half were threatened, and an average of 280 shop workers were assaulted every day. That abuse and violence stands at an unacceptably high level. It is essential that we take action to reduce instances of abuse.
Crime against retailers is detrimental to both the businesses and the workers. Theft places a financial burden on the shop, and there is a negative impact on employees who are forced to endure abuse. Retail crime costs the sector an estimated £246 million. In my Swansea constituency alone, a reported £190,000 was lost as a result of this type of crime.
There are numerous examples of police failing to prosecute cases of retail crime, not because they do not want to, but because their resources are so pared back.