The effects of crime on retail and small business

And the impact of BID town rangers on preventing crime

Crime can be devastating to businesses of all sizes. The loss of stock, criminal damage or threats to staff all have a negative impact on the business, its reputation and its bottom line. These negative effects hit especially hard for smaller businesses or independent retail stores who may already be suffering due to a struggling high street. With police forces already stretched to the limit, many minor retail crimes don’t even get recorded lest the store be negatively treated should a more serious crime occur.

Independent security firms can help bridge the gap between police and the general public through schemes such as town rangers. These trained officers provide a vital service, liaising with police officers and PCSOs and often being the first responders to a crime or incident.

This is why they’re so important…

How bad is the retail crime scene?

Released in September, the 2018 Commercial Victimisation Survey showed the extent to which businesses in England and Wales were subjected to crime.

The key findings were as follows:

  • The wholesale and retail sector experienced the highest levels of crime (10.1 million incidents)
  • This is up from 12,400 to 27,400 incidents per 1,000 between 2015 and 2018.
  • The proportion of premises that experienced a crime fell to 40% from 53% in 2012 (44% in 2012)
  • This meant there was an increase in the repeat victimisation rate

As was recorded earlier this year, only 8% of crimes recorded in England and Wales resulted in suspects being charged or summonsed.

These alarmingly high numbers have several negative effects to shop and small business owners, including…

Staff scared to work

A report by the British Retail Consortium showed that 115 retail employees were attacked at work every day.

With that in mind, it’s no wonder many shop staff are afraid to work, scared of the threat of violence hanging over them.

Darren Conway, head of loss prevention at Sports Direct Group recently told delegates at the recent Retailers Against Crime (RAC) event, that the national rise in violence is ‘out of control’, with retail staff subjected to intimidation and attacks involving knives, machetes, needles and worse.

He told how Sports Direct spends millions across the group on security, including Security Operations Centers, pursuing private prosecutions, facial recognition cameras and sprays that mark an intruder.

He also recommends belonging to a BID saying: “If a BID has a good safety and security manifesto, Sports Direct will vote for it; if not, it won’t”.

Damage to property during break-in

Loss of stock is just the tip of the iceberg. Repairing smashed windows or broken shutters and grills costs money and may result in the store being shut while the work is carried out, costing more money.

Graffiti too costs time and money to clean up. At its best an inconvenience, this act of criminal damage can lower the footfall for a local area as it becomes associated with antisocial behaviour, reducing customer numbers and, ultimately, profits.

Staff decide to steal too

It is estimated that of the £5.5bn UK retail shrinkage in 2019, 22% of all UK retail shrinkage is due to internal theft by staff. As they see members of the public get away with crimes, staff may be tempted to help themselves.

A lackadaisical approach to preventing crime may also manifest itself amongst your staff, resulting in them failing to take the issue of security seriously or take a lazy approach to their security tasks.

Cyber crime

Crime is no longer limited to physical actions, such as burglary, arson or graffiti. Data theft and phishing are now seen as big threats in the retail sector. Under GDPR, should data breaches occur, organisations can be fined 4% of their turnover in the preceding financial year, up to 20 million euros.

Physical security can help secure this digital information. Keeping server rooms locked, locking down portable devices and securing sensitive files can all help protect this important data.

Read our blog ‘How a physical security presence can improve your cyber security’ to find out more.

How to protect against retail crime

While larger stores may hire their own security, this is unachievable for smaller companies or independent stores. While it is unfair to expect retail staff to apprehend thieves or deal with those displaying antisocial behaviour, a lack of security staff means these are often the ones who have to apprehend these criminals.

Often it will be a store’s policy that their staff should never intervene, rather let a theft occur than put themselves in danger. Nowadays criminals will scope out premises so will know each store’s policies and which ones to target.

In these instances, a town’s BID can provide rangers to help protect local businesses and liaise with the police to apprehend known perpetrators.

Use Abbey Security to protect your business from crime in 2020

At Abbey Security, we can provide the full spectrum of guarding services. From manned guarding and mobile security to physical penetration testing or providing officers who act as town rangers, we can support businesses and communities in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire to protect themselves and their possessions. To find out more, call us on 01284 768832 or fill in our contact form.

Posted on December 9, 2019

Abbey Security Menu