Crackdown on Retail Violence Announced

May 20, 2024
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Following on from our previous article highlighting the recent increases in retail violence shown in the British Retail Consortium’s crime report, the Government has announced plans for a new criminal offence and outlined a series of other measures to target abusive shoppers in a policy paper.

The new criminal offense is part of a policy paper, ‘Fighting retail crime: more action’, that builds on the existing government plan announced in October 2023. The intended criminal offence would be a standalone offence for assaults on retail workers. This could see perpetrators sent to prison for up to 6 months, be subject to an unlimited fine, and be banned from the shop where the offence occurred. More serious cases of physical assault will be dealt with as such.

Other proposed measures include:

  • An expansion of the use of electronic monitoring for prolific shoplifters including GPS-monitored curfews and exclusion zones to prevent offenders from returning to places they have previously shoplifted.
  • Maximising the use of new technologies for the prevention and detection of retail crime. This includes greater use of facial recognition, with £55.5 million worth of investment over the next 4 years, including on mobile units that can be deployed onto high streets.
  • Designing out crime by reducing the opportunities to steal and sell stolen goods by sharing good practices between retailers and police forces. Including providing training opportunities to police officers, creating a cash prize fund for innovation in crime prevention for small independent retailers, and pressuring online retailers to make it more difficult to sell stolen goods online.
  • Finally, making it easier to report crime and share information between businesses and the police. Within the dedicated national intelligence unit, Opal, a specialist analysis team has been funded by Pegasus, 14 national retailers, the National Business Crime Solution, and the Home Office, which will receive data, intelligence, and evidence from retailers to develop a national strategic picture of retail crime and develop packages to help forces crack down on serious offenders. Additionally, the plan promotes the sharing of information to identify offenders, the creation of tools for smaller retailers and business crime reduction partnerships, and the promotion of witnesses providing evidence.

Overall, regarding the measures, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stated, ‘I am sending a message to those criminals—whether they are serious organised criminal gangs, repeat offenders, or opportunistic thieves—who think they can get away with stealing from these local businesses of abusing shopworkers, enough is enough.

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