Retailers step up security measures to tackle shoplifting epidemic

John Lewis and Aldi are reportedly stepping up their security measures to address rising levels of shoplifting in the UK.

At John Lewis, staff have been given “de-escalation training”, which is used to identify when an interaction could become violent, according to the BBC.

Some employees across its department stores are also wearing bodycams to catch shoplifters, said the report.

Meanwhile, in some Aldi stores, staff have been checking customer shopping bags for stolen items.

An Aldi staff member told The Grocer that these checks, rolled out last week, are different to those made by security guards.

The move comes as government ministers plan to introduce tougher sentences against shoplifters, with those caught set to be targeted with mandatory jail sentences for repeat offences.

According to The Times, a new crime and justice bill will introduce tougher sentences for offences which currently do not necessarily result in a prison sentence such as shoplifting, burglary, theft and common assault.

The report also notes that there will also be greater use of facial recognition by police and retailers following news that the Information Commissioner’s Office had approved the use of Facewatch, a company which charges retailers £10 a day for facial recognition tech and can be plugged into existing CCTV systems.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) estimated that there were eight million cases of shoplifting in the UK in the 12 months to March – a far cry from the police’s recorded total of 339,206 cases, of which only 48,218 resulted in charges.

The trade association estimates that shoplifting costs retailers around £1 billion per year.

Co-op recently said that some communities could become "no-go" areas for shops due to spiralling levels of retail crime.

With a 35 per cent year on year increase, Co-op said it has been recording the highest ever levels of retail crime, with almost 1,000 shoplifting and anti-social behaviour occurrences each day in the six months to June.

From a freedom of information request, Co-op also found that 71 per cent of serious retail crime is not responded to by police.

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