Posted April 2, 2024

Police Are Failing Retailers As Co-op Reports Record Crime Levels In 2024

The Co-op has raised an alarm over the soaring levels of crime, stating that incidents of retail crime have reached unprecedented heights, with a staggering 35% surge year on year. The retailer disclosed that over 175,000 incidents were documented in the initial half of the year, averaging nearly 1,000 incidents daily. Expressing urgent concern, the Co-op emphasised the necessity for a swift change in police response, revealing that a substantial 71% of serious retail crimes go unanswered. Consequently, retailers find themselves repeatedly targeted by offenders and criminal groups who operate with impunity.

Highlighting the severity of the situation, the Co-op recounted an inner-city London store being ‘looted’ three times within a single day, underscoring the unsustainable nature of such rampant crime, which could potentially render certain communities inaccessible to local businesses. Prioritising the welfare of its members, employees, and communities, the Co-op urged all police forces and crime commissioners to focus on apprehending prolific offenders and dismantling local criminal networks that operate with impunity.

Data from the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) revealed that almost two-thirds of crimes stem from repeat and prolific offenders, with drug or alcohol addiction and local organised criminal groups being major contributing factors. Despite this, a Co-op Freedom of Information request exposed a disconcerting trend where police failed to respond to 71% of reported serious retail crimes, with some agencies failing to address up to 90% of such incidents according to their own records.

Matt Hood, Managing Director of Co-op Food, condemned the pervasive influence of repeat offenders and criminal gangs on retail crime, describing incidents ranging from brazen thefts to violent confrontations that instill fear among store employees. He emphasised the urgent need for change and called upon law enforcement to fulfill their role in combating crime effectively, lamenting instances where store teams’ distress calls remain unanswered, allowing criminals to operate with impunity.

The report highlighted that approximately 70% of shop theft is perpetrated by frequent users of Class A drugs, who resort to theft to finance their addiction, thereby escalating the volatility and potential violence of their crimes. Addressing this group of repeat offenders effectively could significantly reduce retail crime and its detrimental effects on society, including the funding of illicit trades, exploitation of vulnerable individuals, deterioration of high streets, and hindrance to employment opportunities.

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