RETAIL trade union Usdaw is deeply concerned by today’s police recorded crime statistics for Scotland showing that in the 12 months to June there was a 21% increase in shoplifting.
Usdaw’s latest annual survey of over 7,500 shopworkers found that 31% of incidents of violence, threats and abuse related to shoplifting, which is not only higher than in 2019 but also more than double the 2016 level.
Co-op has seen crime, shoplifting and anti-social behaviour jump 35% year-on-year, with more than 175,000 incidents recorded in the first six months of this year, almost 1,000 incidents every day.
Reports show that nearly two-thirds (63%) of crime is driven by repeat and prolific offenders, with drug or alcohol addictions and local organised criminal gangs among the main drivers of offending.
Tracy Gilbert – Usdaw Regional Secretary for Scotland said: “Evidence is mounting that retail crime is on the increase, especially from repeat and prolific offenders. The Scottish Retail Consortium, Association of Convenience Stores, Co-op and many other retailers are all reporting significant increases in theft from shops, which today has been confirmed by official police recorded crime statistics.
“This 21% increase in shoplifting is very concerning for our members in retail. Shoplifting is not a victimless crime, theft from shops has long been a major flashpoint for violence and abuse against shopworkers. 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.
“Our annual survey found that three-quarters of retail workers suffered abuse from customers, with far too many experiencing threats and violence. Theft from shops was the trigger for nearly a third of these incidents last year. Particularly concerning is that just over half of those who did the survey said they were not confident that reporting these issues will make any difference.
“Faced with such appallingly high levels of violence and abuse much more needs to be done. There must be better coordination to ensure that government, retail employers, police and the courts work together to help protect shopworkers, giving them the respect they deserve.”