Retail Trade: Crime

Home Office written question – answered at on 19 September 2023.

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Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Labour/Co-operative, York Central

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what proportion of retail crime reports result in a visit from a (a) police officer, (b) Community Safety Patrol Officer in (i) England and (ii) York.

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Labour/Co-operative, York Central

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will make an estimate of the proportion of retail crime reports that result in the police collecting (a) CCTV and (b) bodycam evidence.

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Labour/Co-operative, York Central

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will make an estimate of the proportion of reports of a retail security guard apprehending a perpetrator of retail crime that result in a visit from a police officer.

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Labour/Co-operative, York Central

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what data her Department holds on the average time taken by police to attend a report of retail crime when a suspect has been detained.

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Labour/Co-operative, York Central

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will have discussions with representatives of the retail sector on providing retail workers with access to (a) body camera and (b) other safety equipment.

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Labour/Co-operative, York Central

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether her Department has conducted research on the causes of retail crime.

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Labour/Co-operative, York Central

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will take steps with industry stakeholders to help ensure that there is an effective programme of self-protection training for staff working in retail.

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Labour/Co-operative, York Central

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will make an assessment of the reasons for trends in the level of prosecutions for retail crimes.

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Labour/Co-operative, York Central

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will publish a retail crime strategy.

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Labour/Co-operative, York Central

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what information her Department holds on the number and proportion of retail crimes that involve physical assaults on staff.

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Labour/Co-operative, York Central

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many and what proportion of cases of physical assault against (a) retail staff and (b) members of the public in a retail outlet were attended to by the police in the last 12 months.

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Labour/Co-operative, York Central

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many and what proportion of cases of physical assault against (a) retail staff and (b) members of the public in a retail outlet led to a prosecution in the last 12 months.

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Labour/Co-operative, York Central

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether she has had discussions with the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers on (a) the level of crime and (b) safety of staff in the retail industry.

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Minister of State, Home Department

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:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/crime-against-businesses-findings-from-the-2022-commercial-victimisation-survey

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.

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