British Retail Consortium welcomes Labour’s plans to tackle shoplifting

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has welcomed Labour’s proposed actions to tackle retail theft.

In her speech at the Labour Conference in Liverpool, shadow secretary Yvette Cooper described a current “epidemic of shoplifting and violence against shop workers,” reflecting concerns held by many in the retail industry.

The plans outlined by Cooper come after the retail industry called on the Conservative government to do more to tackle retail theft, with some retailers now offering staff bodycams to help protect them from abuse in-store.

Cooper said: “We will stand with USDAW, with the Coop, with Tesco, with our convenience stores, with retailers and shopworkers across the country, with a new law and tougher sentences for attacks on our shopworkers because everyone has the right to feel safe at work.”

Cooper also went on to point out that a law brought in by the Tories means shop thefts under £200 aren’t investigated even if the same gang comes back time and again.

“So, conference, we will end the £200 rule to tackle the shoplifting gangs,” she said.

Cooper continued that a Labour government would also bring in Respect Orders to ban repeat offenders from town centres and “restore neighbourhood policing” with 13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs back on UK streets.

Responding to Cooper’s speech, BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson restated that with over 850 incidents of violence or abuse every single day, “we need action to protect our retail colleagues.”

“We welcome the Labour Party and the Shadow Home Secretary’s commitment to introduce a new law to protect retail workers from violence and abuse,” she said. “We need a standalone offence to improve the visibility of the issue, so that police can allocate appropriate resources to the challenge, and to act as a deterrent to would-be offenders.”

Dickinson added that the proposed actions would also send a “clear message that this behaviour will not be tolerated.”

88 UK retail decision makers, including chief executive of Aldi Giles Hurley and chief executive of Kingfisher Thierry Garnier, recently penned an open letter to home secretary Suella Braverman calling on the government to tackle the rising rates of retail crime.

In August, John Lewis chair Sharon White also called on UK legislation to “do more” to tackle shoplifting, while a number of UK retailers including Tesco have begun offering staff body cams due to a surge in violence against employees.

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