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Rise in shoplifting is driving increase in violence against shopworkers, retail union warns

RETAIL union Usdaw warned today that a rise in shoplifting is driving an increase in violence against shopworkers across England and Wales. 

Usdaw is concerned that police crime statistics show a significant increase in shoplifting across England and Wales in the 12 months to December 2022.

The Office for National Statistics figures show a 31 per cent increase across Wales, with Dyfed-Powys figures up 42 per cent.

The union’s latest annual survey of over 7,500 shopworkers found 31 per cent of incidents of violence, threats and abuse were related to shoplifting in 2022.

Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said: “Shoplifting is not a victimless crime, theft from shops has long been a major flashpoint for violence and abuse against shop workers. 

“Having to deal with repeated and persistent shoplifters can cause issues beyond the theft itself like anxiety, fear and in some cases physical harm to retail workers.”

Mr Lillis also pointed to the effect of the cost-of-living crisis on the increasing incidents of shoplifting.

“The cost-of-living crisis is also a factor and theft from shops in itself contributes to rising prices as retailers try to recover losses,” Mr Lillis said.

“Our annual survey found that three-quarters of retail workers suffered abuse from customers, with far too many experiencing threats and violence. 

“Theft from shops was the trigger for nearly a third of these incidents last year.

“The government must provide the co-ordination needed to ensure that retail employers, police and the courts work together to make stores safe places for our members to work and for customers to shop.”

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