I found an interesting article online this week that made me think about the latest British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) Retail Crime Survey 2009, which has revealed that the amount of violence and abuse against retail shop staff has doubled since 2008.

The article states:

Physical violence rose 58% and verbal abuse by 37%. At least 22,000 retail employees suffered threats, physical or verbal attacks. The actual figure is probably much higher as a good deal of abuse goes unreported, according to the BRC.

The survey also reveals that the number of thefts from shops rose by a third in a year with an incident occurring nearly every minute, 24 hours a day. For the first time the BRC survey has assessed the proportion of retail crimes that are not reported to the police. Data from retailers indicates two- thirds of customer thefts are not reported; suggesting the actual number of shoplifting incidents was over one million.

The survey also shows retail crime of all types cost UK shops £1.1bn in 2008/09 – a 10% increase on the previous year and equivalent to 72,000 retail jobs.  Stealing by customers accounts for the biggest share of all retail crime both by the number of incidents (94%) and by monetary value (42%).
Here are my thoughts on the rise of violence in our shops:

I don’t know if you have ever heard of Plato’s law and his 80-20 theory, well it works with criminals too. There is a very small amount of people 20% causing 80% of the violence and offences in our country and it has to be either stopped or at the very least reduced.

The way the police and courts deal with these violent criminals is all wrong and I believe we all need to change our attitude towards these types of offenders.

I keep hearing in the media the call to build more prisons, or dish out more community service, but that won’t work because they let them do a few hours community service somewhere quiet and it’s all to nice and easy. I think they should be formally named and shamed in public. People should be embarrassed to shoplift and commit a crime and likewise embarrassed to do community service.

Pink outfits on community service

Take the example of Joseph M. “Joe” Arpaio for instance he is an American law enforcement officer, and the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. He promotes himself as “America’s Toughest Sherif and he has created a bit of a twist on the community service issue. He makes the offenders all wear bright pink uniforms whilst they pick up litter in a public place.

What do you think has happened to the offending rates in his town? Yes you guessed it, they have dropped like a stone because nobody wants to look an idiot. Now don’t get me wrong I know this won’t work on everyone such as drug addicts but we certainly need to look at simple ways which could drastically reduce crime in our country.

I also believe that when they put them into prisons they should teach them there is another way when they come out. Education in prisons must be paramount if we are to stop this vicious circle of reoffending in the United Kingdom.

My five tips for retailers to reduce violence

  1. They should train all of their staff on the front desks in Conflict Resolution Training, customer service training and physical skills training to make sure they are ready to deal with any situations even before they occur
  2. They should install more CCTV
  3. They should have huge notices stating “You are on CCTV” and “Thieves will be prosecuted” this should be all around the store so people know
  4. They should at the very least all have some type of security staff who should be watching things carefully
  5. Retailers should use schemes similar to pubwatch sharing information on known criminals

According to reports only a third of thefts are reported, now this shocks me. I believe that to reduce this unwanted behaviour in our high street stores we need to have a combination of the courts, the retail industry, and the police taking a much firmer line with criminals. I blogged a while back about a violent incident I witnessed and the police arrived although they showed no interest in arresting anyone even though a number of people had been punched and head butted.

When I went to Australia over the Christmas break, I noticed it was a really clean country in terms of litter and this is because they have a very pro-active response to it. If a police office sees you drop a piece of litter they will give you a ticket for it immediately. Also in the school holidays they double the driving points you get on your license and place signs up all around the towns and they even call it double the points scheme. I like this idea, it is forward thinking and that is what we all must be in 2010.