Last summer, Martin Vickers MP took over as Chairman of the Retail Crime All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG). APPG's are set up by cross-party MPs and Peers to look at a particular subject or issue; in this case, the purpose of the APPG is to “raise awareness of retail crime and the impact it has on retailers and shop workers”.
As Chair of the APPG, Martin recently met with representatives from the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN), and the British Retail Consortium (BRC). He discussed what impact retail crime has on their members, analysed statistics from the ACS Crime Report 2017 and the BRC Crime Survey 2016, and explored what policy interventions could be taken to tackle retail crime.
Commenting on the findings from the APPG meeting, Mr Vickers said “some police forces do give a high priority to what can be very serious incidents but it’s not a uniform approach across the country. The recent publication of the 2016 Retail Crime Survey by the British Retail Consortium details the increase in such incidents and provides an opportunity for me as Chairman of the Retail Crime Group to highlight the issue which affects shop staff in my constituency and throughout the country. At my next meeting with the local police commander I will be discussing with him how the Humberside Force deal with retail crime.”
Following the APPG meeting on the surveys, Martin raised this issue during Home Office Questions. He asked the Home Office Minister, Sarah Newton MP, about the increasing levels of violence and physical abuse against shop staff and the concerns of shop owners that the police are not giving sufficient priority to shopworkers:
Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con)
What recent assessment she has made of trends in the level of retail crime.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sarah Newton)
I very much welcome this question from my hon. Friend, who is chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on retail crime, which recently launched a report on this very subject. I can assure him that we take retail crime very seriously. I am co-chair of the National Retail Crime Steering Group with the British Retail Consortium, which brings together retailers and the police to understand the challenge and take effective action.
I thank the Minister for her reply, but she will be aware of growing concern among retailers about levels of both physical and verbal abuse. Will she do something to ensure that police across the country prioritise this issue sufficiently? Retailers are worried that different areas receive a different response from the different forces.
Let us be absolutely clear: violence or verbal abuse of any kind is simply not acceptable for any workforce in our country. I shall take this issue forward through the national steering group, and will draw particularly on the very effective work that has been done between the police and forecourt retailers, where we put in place measures that are really improving police response around the country.
You can read the whole debate here.
If you are a constituent who has experienced retail crime and would like to discuss this issue further, please do not hesitate to contact Martin on 0207 219 7212, or the constituency office on 01472 603554.