The police have been accused of failing to respond to violent attacks on retail staff amid a spiralling shoplifting epidemic.
Thefts are up by 24 per cent year on year with the cost to stores approaching £1billion a year.
Now a powerful coalition of industry leaders is calling on the police to help retailers and get tough on shoplifters.
Currently, officers will not attend where the value of items stolen is under £200, while retailers say even violent attacks on innocent staff are being ignored.
The coalition is made up of the British Retail Consortium (BRC), which speaks for big supermarkets, as well as the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), the British Independent Retail Association, the Federation of Small Businesses, the Federation of Independent Retailers and shopworkers’ union Usdaw.
Pedestrians pass brand name retail outlets on Oxford Street in London on September 5, 2023. A coalition of retailer groups have joined to call on police to crack down on shoplifters
The group has written to police and crime commissioners in England and Wales, calling on forces to prioritise gathering evidence related to violent attacks – and make it easier for retailers to report crimes.
The letter says: ‘We often see scenarios where violence against shopworkers is not responded to by the police because incidents do not meet forces’ threat, harm and risk criteria as offenders have left the premises after committing an offence.
‘In the vast majority, if not all, of retail businesses there will be CCTV footage available to support police lines of enquiry into violent incidents.
‘We would like to see the proactive collection of evidence prioritised by police forces.’
The group want forces around the country to follow the example of Nottinghamshire and Sussex, where action is being taken to identify, prosecute and lock up prolific offenders.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: ‘The unprecedented levels of shop theft cannot be allowed to continue.
‘Theft and abuse are a blight on communities. They must be investigated to bring the most prolific offenders to justice.’
A recent study found 54.4 per cent of shoplifting involved supermarkets, with Co-op the worst affected, ahead of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Aldi.
The John Lewis group, which includes the supermarket Waitrose, recently put its shoplifting losses at £12million.
The Co-Op has introduced anti-theft display boxes in a bid to help curb bulk-shoplifting
The Mail On Sunday has launched a campaign urging authorities to act against shoplifting.
It has highlighted how organised criminal gangs are behind half of all shop theft.
The campaign has revealed how a lack of police action has forced retailers to spend tens of millions of pounds on their own security measures, including hiring private companies to bring prosecutions.