Shops & Robbers: Highstreet Wars?

Shoplifting has plagued retailers for decades and experts are predicting it could get worse with the mounting cost of living. With a 20% increase in recorded shoplifting incidents in the twelve months to March this year, is enough being done to tackle this age old problem? 

Adam Shaw investigates whether the police are doing enough, if the cost of living crisis is driving retail theft and meets the shop owners who have taken matters into their own hands.

We hear from shop owners like Paul Cheema whose parents first opened up their corner shop 40 years ago. Paul has since taken on the business and runs his own small string of stores, but he was forced to let go of one shop in Birmingham in 2018 due to persistent shoplifting. 

Paul believes the police aren’t doing enough to help.

There’s a disparity between what retailers say is happening in their stores, and what the official stats report. According to the latest ONS data of police recorded crime, there were just over 270,000  recorded shoplifting incidents in England and Wales so far this year - a 20% increase since March 2021, but the retail industry say they have millions of incidents a year.

We speak to Danielle, an ex-shoplifter, after losing her job in 2015 her life quickly spiralled out of control. She began shoplifting to survive, but soon started using drugs and ended up stealing £100’s worth of items every day. 

She now works for St Giles’ Trust  - a charity that aims to transform the lives of people held back by poverty, dealing with addiction or mental health problems. Danielle says that when she used to shoplift she knew of many people who would steal just to survive.

Shoplifting is one of the biggest triggers for aggression and violence towards shop staff. The trade union for retail workers, published a report which revealed that 9 in 10 workers suffer abuse from customers, with over 1300 incidents happening a day according to the British Retail Consortium.

We meet Paul Gerrard who works at Co-Op which has been campaigning for years to bring about stronger legislation making violence and abuse towards retail staff a more serious crime. 

Shops & Robbers: Highstreet Wars? is on ITV this Thursday (11th August) at 8.30pm

Useful websites

St Giles TrustNational Business Crime Centre

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