High Streets Initiative · 8 March 2018

Serious violent attacks on retail staff double in just one year

Retailers claimed criminals were increasingly likely to abuse staff when challenged over stealing
The number of serious violent attacks recorded against retail staff doubled in 2017, new survey findings have revealed.

According to the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) 2017 Retail Crime Survey, violent crime in the sector resulting in injury occurred at twice the rate of the previous year. Some six in every 1, 000 workers were a victim of violence last year equivalent to 13 individuals left with injuries each day.

Knives and stabbing implements were the most significant weapons recorded, followed by syringes. Meanwhile, softer incidents of violence and abuse affected 40 workers in every 1, 000 the second highest level ever recorded.

The research also provided a wider picture of crime in the sector, with fraud, shoplifting, criminal damage and even employee theft affecting retailers. Overall, the direct financial cost of retail crime reached 700m in 2017 a six per cent increase on the previous year.

Customer theft remained the largest contributor at a cost of 500m to the sector, a 15 per cent rise on 2016 figures. Retailers claimed that career? criminals were increasingly likely to verbally and physically abuse staff when challenged over stealing. They also cited requirements to age-check and refuse sales as triggering violence and threats against workers.


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Commenting on the findings, Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said the rise in violent incidents presented a deeply concerning picture? for the industry.

attacks on retail workers are intolerable, and our members are completely clear that keeping their staff safe and providing an environment in which they can work free of fear from threats and violence, is their first priority.



Praseeda Nair is an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.