Posted: Wed 8th May 2024

Calls for urgent action to help tackle the “epidemic of retail crime’

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales


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A trade union has called for urgent action to help tackle the ‘epidemic of retail crime’ which has seen a rise in shoplifting and assaults on shop workers.

The call from Usdaw comes after new figures from the Office of National Statistics revealed a 39 per cent increase of shoplifting incidents across Wales.

According to the trade union, which represents over 360,000 members, there has been been a “persistent upward trend since the pandemic, which continued with a 37% increase and has now risen to the highest level in 20 years.”

The rise in shoplifting has coincided with an increase in abuse towards shopworkers.

Usdaw’s 2023 annual survey of over 5,500 shopworkers found that 60 per cent had suffered incidents of violence, threats and abuse that were triggered by shoplifting and armed robbery.

Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary said the “epidemic of retail crime” can have a long lasting effect on many workers.

“Shoplifting is not a victimless crime, theft from shops has long been a major flashpoint for violence and abuse against shopworkers,” said Paddy Lillis.

“Having to deal with repeated and persistent shoplifters can cause issues beyond the theft itself like anxiety, fear and in some cases physical harm to retail workers.

“This 39 per cent increase in shoplifting across Wales is further evidence that we are facing an epidemic of retail crime, which is hugely concerning.

“Our members have reported that they are often faced with hardened career criminals in the stores and we know that retail workers are much more likely to be abused by those who are stealing to sell goods on.

“Our latest survey results show that 7 in 10 retail workers suffered abuse from customers, with far too many experiencing threats and violence. 60 per cent of respondents said theft from shops and armed robbery were triggers for these incidents.

“The scale of assaults, abuse and threats towards shopworkers and extent of the retail crime epidemic has been a disgrace for many years.

“We hope that whatever the Government is proposing will be substantial and effective in giving shopworkers, key workers in every community, the respect that they have long deserved and regrettably too often do not receive.”

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