At the British Retail crime conference today, James Brokenshire said tough action will be taken to deal with shoplifting and other criminal behaviour which is damaging the retail sector.
Police forces that are more accountable to the public and tied down by less bureaucracy are part of the solution, he said, but it is the responsibility of retailers to help make a difference too.
Police stations in store
‘The police cannot reduce crime alone,’ explained the crime prevention minister. ‘Retailers are already doing a lot to reduce crime and we want to work with you to build on this.’
He pointed to some good examples of police and shops working together. More than 30 branches of Sainsbury’s now have a police station in the store.
Meanwhile, staff in Co-Op shops help the police to spend more time on the beat by providing ‘tea stops’ where officers can take their breaks and act as a deterrent to criminals.
Tough financial times
Mr Brokenshire said that the tough economic climate meant it is more important than ever for shops to trade without fear of crime.
The retail sector generates eight per cent of our GDP he pointed out, and employs ten per cent of the UK workforce.
The minister emphasised the importance of shops to communities across the UK: they ‘keep our town centres alive and are often the lynchpin of our neighbourhoods, providing a place where communities meet and make connections with each other,’ he said.
‘When I see a vibrant row of shops, I know it’s a sign of a vibrant, healthy neighbourhood.’