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Crime Report 2021





The 2021 Crime Report reveals that 89% of colleagues working in local shops have experienced some form of abuse, with over 1.2million incidents recorded over the last year.  

Throughout the pandemic, convenience stores have stayed open, providing essential goods and services to millions of customers that rely on them whilst adapting their businesses to ensure that they’re Covid secure. But despite limits on customer numbers in many stores and an overall drop in the number of people visiting convenience stores over the last year, there have still been an estimated 1.1million incidents of shop theft recorded in the convenience sector.

Financial Cost of Crime

Crimes committed against the convenience sector cost £142m over the last yearalone, equating to over £3,000 per store.

Stores have also invested heavily over the last year to make their businesses safer. Over £175m has been spent by retailers on crime prevention measures like CCTV, external security staff and intruder alarms. Taken together with the cost of crimes committed, there is effectively a 5p crime tax on every transaction in stores.

“During Covid-19 we have invested in a £10k CCTV system with facial recognition and outside ANPR cameras. The facial recognition works with people wearing masks and will find historic footage of every time that person has been in-store. We are prepared for when we have to use this, unfortunately not if.” – Susan Connolly, SPAR

 Covid-19 Related Abuse

One of the biggest changes facing convenience stores over the last year has been how to adapt their stores to keep customers and colleagues safe. This has resulted in stores investing in Perspex screens, new technology to manage customer numbers, and a range of other social distancing measures.

While these changes have been welcomed by the vast majority of customers, Covid-related abuse has become one of the biggest issues facing retailers, and is now one of the top triggers of violence in store.

“Customers have threatened to cough on colleagues and ‘give them Coronavirus’ and further threats of assaults because people have had to queue to enter stores, social distance or simply because they do not have a specific product.” - Craig Goldie, Central England Co-op

Of those who responded to the 2021 Crime Survey, 65% of respondents have seen Covid-related threats to staff, with the most common causes of Covid-related abuse being:

  • Reminding customers to wear face coverings
  • Reminding customers of social distancing measures
  • Queueing outside stores
  • Requesting removal of face coverings to check ID

Violence against Retailers and their Colleagues

“Violence and abuse is just getting worse ... I was threatened with a syringe – a shoplifter was stealing cheese, and said if I didn’t get out of the way he would stab me.” “It has a huge effect on mental health – it is the thought that it could flare up, and happen at any time, the fear of the unknown.” – Craig, Store Manager

 Over the last year, there have been around 40,000 incidents of violence against people working in convenience stores. Of these, over one in four involved a weapon, such as a knife, hammer, axe or syringe.

 Evidence for Action

This year’s Crime Report launches ahead of the 2021 Police and Crime Commissioner elections. After just 18 of the 42 current PCCs included any reference to business crime in their Police and Crime Plans, ACS has called on all prospective PCCs to take action in four areas to support local shops:

 Create police-led business engagement teams with dedicated resource to engage with the retail sector

  • Provide funding for ‘Second Chance’ Programmes to deal with repeat offenders suffering from addiction issues
  • Use Community Remedy Powers to ban repeat offenders from local shops
  • Provide better support for victims of violence and abuse in local shops


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