Chief Executive's Blog: Tackling Crime In Store

This has been a big week for ACS, launching our crime report, which has attracted lots of interest from within the trade and in wider public debate including: The TimesThe TelegraphDaily Star and The Grocer. I’m not going to give you a stat attack from our survey, but here are some observations based on lots of conversation with retailers and others at our crime prevention seminar where we launched the report.

What’s frustrating about crime is not the increase in shop theft and the cost of crime, it’s the constant, repetitive impact of crime on our sector. It remains the biggest operational factor for convenience stores to cope with, and its effects reach into challenges recruiting colleagues, and their morale while in the job, and even things like the way we design stores to reduce the potential for crime. Over the years different specific issues have gained a higher profile: anti-social behaviour, ATM raids, scams and theft, but fundamentally crime has been a fact of life for our members and it’s going to continue to be.

Politics may have some of the answers, but it also causes some of the problems. The creation of new Police & Crime Commissioners was meant to make policing more accountable, but has it really? One of our members told me of their attempts to contact their local PCC, and being told that they didn’t take phone calls from members of the public. Maybe that’s fair enough as a diary management policy, but it doesn’t tally with the idea of PCCs as accountable and tuned in to local needs. 

So given this, it’s all about local. That means not your county or city, but the village, estate or neighbourhood where you trade. Work with the local police officers or PSCOs and share information, direct resources to the most effective places at the most relevant times of the week, and link in with schools, other businesses and the council. This won’t address every problem, but you might find some approaches that work, like Susan Connolly did when she agreed with the local school that pupils who stole from her store would have to sweep up outside the store at peak times for their peers to be walking past, and crucially for this sanction to be enforced through the school, like a detention.

Finally, retailers who suffer from crime are victims and should receive help and support. But that doesn’t mean we can’t help ourselves as well.  Reporting crime in the right way, training staff to deal with challenging situations (see our new training animation here), and designing out crime where possible can and do make a difference. Yes, you shouldn’t have to spend time and money tackling issues that you didn’t cause, and where you already pay taxes for the police to act on your behalf.  But as they always do, the best retailers are controlling what they can and trying to find solutions.

This entry was posted by Chloe on Thu, 22/03/2018 - 09:52