Retail crime of any form, including violence and abuse, is not acceptable, and the Government takes this issue very seriously.
The Government has legislated to introduce a statutory aggravating factor for assault against any public facing worker via section 156 of the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Act 2022. The statutory aggravating factor applies in cases of assault where an offence is committed against those performing a public duty or providing a service to the public and ensures the courts treat the public-facing nature of a victim’s role as an aggravating factor when considering the sentence for an offence.
The Home Office works closely with retailers and trade organisations, including USDAW, and police partners via the National Retail Crime Steering Group (NRCSG) to ensure that the response to crimes affecting the retail sector is as robust as it can be.
On a national level, the Home Office works closely with the police-led National Business Crime Centre (NBCC) to understand the crimes affecting businesses and help ensure businesses and police are working effectively together. The Home Office is committed to working closely with the NBCC on all aspects of business crime and has provided funding to assist with their online retail crime hub which holds vital resource assets for the retail sector, including training packages. Shopworker Videos (nbcc.police.uk)
Further training is available on the British Retail Consortium website, which hosts a dedicated resource page on behalf of the NRCSG and includes valuable links to training to help retail workers de-escalate threatening situations.DE-ESCALATION TRAINING (brc.org.uk)
The Home Office collects and publishes data on crime affecting commercial premises as part of the Commercial Victimisation Survey, which was last published in May 2023 and is available at:
This includes data on the proportion of premises which experienced a physical assault on their staff, and the responses of the police to reports of crime from commercial premises.
These data provide us with a good understanding of the prevalence to crime against retail premises. The Home Office does not hold data on the number of incidents of retail crime and as such it is not possible to calculate a proportion of retail crime incidents that were attended by the police. The Home Office also holds no information on the number of cases where CCTV or body cam evidence were collected.
Police forces across England and Wales have recently committed to pursuing any available evidence where there is a reasonable chance it could lead them to catching a perpetrator and solving a crime. For retail crime this could include reviewing CCTV evidence to identify suspects or using the Police National Database for facial searches where appropriate to do so.
I encourage the innovative use of new technology including facial recognition, where legal and appropriate. It is for individual retailers to decide what tools to use to prevent retail crime.
Operational decisions will always be a matter for individual police chiefs and their force. This Government has given the police more resources to deal with crimes, including retail crime, and, thanks to our successful uplift programme through which we recruited over 20,000 additional officers, we now have a record number of officers across forces in England and Wales. The specific data requested is not held centrally.