Retail Crime — [Mr Laurence Robertson in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 3:24 pm on 11th April 2019.

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Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women 3:24 pm, 11th April 2019

My intention is to publish it in the autumn. I ask all right hon. and hon. Members to spread the word through their networks and encourage local shopkeepers to contribute to the consultation, because the richer the tapestry of evidence that we have, the better we will be able to respond.

The call for evidence is supported by a wider package of measures. The Home Office is providing £50,000 of funding for a targeted communication campaign, led by the Association of Convenience Stores, to raise awareness of the existing legislation to protect shop workers. We have published guidance on about the use of impact statements for business, which provide victims with the opportunity to tell the courts about the impact a crime has had on their business. From my experience of working in the criminal courts, I know that those statements can make a huge difference and have a real impact on judges as they are considering how best to sentence offenders.

We have also worked with the police to develop guidance for staff and retailers to use when reporting emergency and violent incidents. As I say, I encourage everyone with an interest to respond to the call for evidence, including shop staff who have been directly affected by violence and abuse at work.

Interestingly, Chris Elmore, who is sadly no longer in his place—he may be in the main Chamber—made a wider point about courtesy and the use of language. I am sure that we all consider that an important point that we will encourage people to remember as they visit our shops. Shop workers deserve politeness and courtesy, as does anyone else in this world. The example was given of an item of stock running low, which can be frustrating, but we should try to behave with courtesy.

I will quickly touch on the issue of police funding, which a couple of hon. Members raised. It has largely been a debate of great collaboration and agreement, but I must point out that police funding will increase by more than £1 billion in 2019-20, including, with the help of council tax, extra funding for pension costs and the serious violence fund. The Home Secretary has also stated that he will prioritise police funding at the next spending review.