Retail sector counts the rising cost of crime

The total cost of crime and crime prevention for retailers was £1.9bn last year, up 12% from the previous year (£1.7bn), according to figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC). The figure comprises £900m direct cost from retail crime, and £1bn spent in efforts to prevent crime.

The BRC’s annual Retail Crime Survey reveals the vast cost of crime to people and businesses up and down the country. The direct costs of crime included a £700m loss arising from customer theft, a 31% rise on the previous year. The total cost of crime, at £1.9bn, is equivalent to approximately 20% of the estimated profits of the entire retail industry.
The human cost of criminal enterprise is also highlighted as the survey found that 115 retail employees were attacked at work every day, with the use of knives by assailants a significant concern.

Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive of the BRC, said: “The spiralling cost of retail crime – both in losses and the cost of prevention – are a huge burden to a retail sector that is already weighed down by the twin challenges of skyrocketing business costs and Brexit uncertainty.

“We hope this report will act as a catalyst for police and crime commissioners around the country to take action. Retail crime should be explicitly addressed by police and crime plans. Parliament must also play its part in stemming this tide of crime by creating a specific criminal offence to protect retail employees from assault at work, as has been done for emergency workers.”

Retailers are spending 17% more on cyber-security than last year (£162m), and nearly 80% of the retailers surveyed have seen an increase in the number of cyber attacks. Clare Gardiner, the National Cyber Security Centre’s Director of Engagement, said: “The NCSC is committed to helping to improve the UK’s cyber security, which is why we have worked in partnership with the BRC to produce the BRC Cyber Security Toolkit.

“Organisations can also share threat intelligence in a confidential way through the NCSC’s online Cyber Information Sharing Partnership (CiSP), which increases awareness to dangers and reduces the impact on UK businesses.”

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