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Violence and abuse of UK retail staff doubles as cost of crime tops £1.76 billion

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UK Retail workers have experienced "appalling levels" of violence and abuse following the pandemic, with the cost of crime reaching £1.76 billion.

A new survey from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) reveals more than 850 incidents of racial, sexual, and physical assault, as well as threats with weapons, were recorded every day in the UK between 2021 and 2022.

This is more than double the number of daily attacks that occurred between 2019 and 2020.

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According to the most recent figures, £953 million was lost due to customer theft, which equated to eight million incidents over the course of the year.

The data shows retailers spent a total of £715 million on crime prevention which was a factor in higher prices for customers by increasing operating costs.

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The report said: “For every 1000 workers there were155 incidents of violence or abuse in 2020-21, up from 54 in 2019-20.”

The survey also revealed two "common triggers" for attacks were reminding customers of the rules around Covid and stopping people suspected of stealing.

Official statistics show police recorded nearly 230,000 cases of customer theft in the year to March 2021 in England and Wales, which shows some of the challenges retailers are facing.

Pandemic "normalised appalling levels of violent and abusive behaviour"

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “The pandemic has normalised appalling levels of violent and abusive behaviour against retail workers.

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“While a confrontation may be over in minutes, for many victims, their families and colleagues, the physical and emotional impact can last a lifetime.

“To make the UK a safer place to work the Home Office must improve its reporting around the amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, and the police must prioritise adequately resourcing retail crime. Surely everyone deserves the right to go to work without fear.”

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The survey also revealed just four percent of people involved in incidents were successfully prosecuted, with 60 percent of respondents saying they had a "poor or very poor" response from the police.

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