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Co-op warns that action, not words, must lead to end of crime epidemic

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The retail industry is facing a significant challenge with the rise in retail crime, which has now reached record levels. The Retail Crime Action Plan, introduced in October, aimed to address this issue by ensuring police attendance in stores to tackle violence. However, police response has been lacking in many cases, leading to a dangerous environment for store workers and communities.

Co-op’s latest data reveals that the police failed to show up in almost four-fifths (76%) of the near 3,000 occasions where serious offenders were detained by specialist teams this year. Co-op managing director, Matt Hood, emphasized the urgency of the situation, as the retailer has experienced almost 300,000 incidents of shoplifting, abuse, violence, and anti-social behavior this year.

Despite these challenges, Co-op has seen success in partnership with certain police forces in tackling retail crime. Nottinghamshire, Essex, and Sussex have made significant strides in removing prolific offenders from the streets and imposing custodial sentences or rehabilitation on repeat offenders.

In response to these developments, Inspector Ollie Vale of Nottinghamshire Police stressed the importance of collaboration between public sector and retail partners to address the issue effectively. This week, Co-op is actively raising awareness of the impact of retail crime by hosting over 50 MPs and a number of PCCs in their stores across the UK.

Usdaw general secretary, Paddy Lillis, echoed the urgency of addressing the issue, citing concerns about the underfunding of police and the lack of consequences for low-level offenders. Co-op has invested over £200M in colleague and store safety and security, utilizing the latest technology such as CCTV, body-worn cameras, and dummy packaging to deter theft.

Overall, the retail industry is facing a critical issue with retail crime, and it is essential for all stakeholders, including law enforcement, retailers, and government, to work together to address this challenge and ensure the safety and security of store workers and communities.

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