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Usdaw welcomes David Lammy MP highlighting that 9 in 10 shop thefts are not reported to the police

Date: 05 March 2015 Shopworkers trade union leader John Hannett has welcomed a report by David Lammy MP that highlights a public lack of confidence in the ability or willingness of police to investigate and prosecute incidents of theft from shops.

The report, written by the MP and published by Policy Exchange, is based on a survey of victims of shop theft which says that police do not respond when called and that they are unable to catch shoplifters:

  • 35 per cent said that they have no confidence in the ability of police to adequately prosecute shoplifters.
  • One small business owner claimed that police did not even record shoplifting incidents he reported, as ‘it is not worth the paperwork’.
  • Despite the proliferation of CCTV, security guards and electronic tags, shop theft is increasing.
  • Shopkeepers are reporting no more than ten per cent of shoplifting incidents and police do not investigate shoplifting much of the time.

John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says: “David Lammy has touched a nerve with this report and his assertion that ‘low-value’ shoplifting is almost decriminalised is very worrying.

“Our members are on the frontline of retail and theft from shops is a significant cause of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers. We have long been concerned about the definition of ‘low-value’ theft being less than £200. Most of our members work in supermarkets and not many thieves would be attempting to steal goods valued over £200.

“It is wrong to simply pick a monetary value and declare everything below it as being ‘low-value’. Mr Lammy is right to say that the impact of the crime should also be taken into account and that it not just the impact on the business.

“Shopworkers who are confronted by a thief, unsurprisingly, find it a very traumatic experience. If an encounter doesn’t result in violence, it almost always involves threats and abuse. So from the viewpoint of retail staff, theft from shops is most certainly not a victimless crime.

“Our own surveys show that over 300 shopworkers are assaulted every day, often by a shop thief. Yet 1 in 6 assaults are not even reported to the employer, let alone the police. That clearly demonstrates the lack of confidence our members have on these crimes being investigated and prosecuted.

“On four occasions in this Parliament, Conservative and Liberal Democrats have combined to vote down Labour proposals to provide stiffer sentences for those who assault shopworkers. I hope that David Lammy’s intervention will make the governing parties review their positions.”

Notes for editors:

Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers)
is the UK's fourth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 434,000 members. Membership has increased by more than 17% in the last five years and by nearly a third in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the Union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.

Policy Exchange Report: Taking Its Toll - the regressive impact of property crime in Britain by Rt Hon David Lammy MP http://www.policyexchange.o...

For Usdaw press releases visit: www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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