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Mitie calls on the public to prevent rise in retail crime

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As the country takes its first steps back to normality with lockdown restrictions steadily lifting, Mitie and independent charity, Crimestoppers are appealing to people to report any information they may have about crime against local businesses, from shops to company premises, factories to warehouses.

The call from Mitie Security comes alongside the publication of its latest white paper, ‘The Threat to Retail in a Post-COVID World’, published in partnership with the charity Crimestoppers. The report outlines some of the biggest threats facing the retail industry in a post-COVID world and how the British public can help prevent harm against local businesses and shop staff. The activity to prevent retail crime is part of Mitie’s partnership with the crime prevention charity, which is the only collaboration of its kind in the security industry.

Shops and businesses play a crucial role in society and many of their staff are key workers because of the essential services they provide. Yet according to the Association of Convenience Stores, harm against shopworkers is on the rise. There have been over 1.2 million incidents of verbal abuse and 40,000 acts of violence against those working in convenience stores over the past year. More than a quarter of these cases involved a weapon, such as hammers, knives, axes or syringes.

As well as asking members of the public to share knowledge on retail crime, the report also identifies the key factors and wider trends that are fuelling this rise in criminal activity in retail stores. For example, with over 4,000 organised crime groups (OCGs) operating in the UK, organised crime affects more people and leads to more deaths than terrorism. A turbulent economy and social tension, both side-effects of the recent national lockdowns, are factors that will increase the threat from OCGs. While the risk of terrorism remains relatively low, crowds, particularly in retail spaces, are a known target. Environmental design of the retail space makes certain types of attack more difficult, however human intelligence is fundamental to preventing these crimes. 

Jason Towse, Managing Director, Business Services, Mitie, said: “The re-opening of shops, bars and restaurants is a relief to many of us and has already seen a sharp increase in footfall across retail spaces. However, it is the right of anyone working in retail to do their job free from harm, without fear of abuse or violence. The physical and verbal abuse of people trying to serve customers is just as unacceptable as theft or fraud.

“As part of getting the UK back to normal, we are calling on the great British public to support local businesses, not just by getting back to the high street, but by helping stamp out crime and reporting any criminal activity anonymously through the Crimestoppers service.”

Mick Duthie, Director of Operations, Crimestoppers, said: “It’s very sad to think that at a time when we relied on retail staff even more during the pandemic, that so many of them encountered verbal and physical abuse, on a daily basis. Retail staff should be appreciated by us all and thanked, not abused.

“If you have information on anybody you know has been violent or abusive towards retail staff or if you have any information on those involved in organised crime, criminal damage against a business premises or any crime, you can contact Crimestoppers 100% anonymously, always. Our charity’s UK Contact Centre is open 24/7 on 0800 555 111 or you can use our simple and secure anonymous online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org.”

Anyone with information about organised crime groups, crime against businesses, or that knows someone who is abusive or violent towards retail and shop staff, can let Crimestoppers know 100% anonymously on freephone 0800 555 111 or by using the untraceable anonymous online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org.

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