The association has welcomed the recent pledge by police forces across England and Wales to pursue every lead that holds a reasonable chance of apprehending criminals and solving crimes.
BIRA said the ‘back-to-basics’ approach marks a significant milestone in addressing the rising concerns of retail crime, particularly theft and violence.
Ceo, Andrew Goodacre, commented: “We must stress the need to report these crimes, as it is the most effective way to prompt police prioritisation. Our collaboration with law enforcement is crucial to restoring safety and confidence among retailers.
“Over the past few weeks, BIRA has been actively raising concerns about the surge in retail crime and its impact on the independent retail sector. This initiative led to us meeting with the minister for policing, Police and crime commissioners, chief constables, and other retail groups, reaffirming the urgent need to address these issues and bolster retailer confidence.”
BIRA’s contribution to the BRC’s survey further highlights the severity of the situation. Andrew continued: “The survey reveals a staggering 27% increase in reported incidents over the past 12 months, with the total value of theft exceeding £2.8 billion. This escalating problem, coupled with escalating violence towards retail employees, necessitates a more proactive approach from relevant authorities.
“Shop theft, while not new, has flourished due to years of low prioritisation by the police, resulting in a low-risk, high-reward environment that now involves highly organised elements. Independent retailers have voiced their concerns, likening the problem to looting incidents, with offenders growing increasingly audacious.”
BIRA is advocating several measure to regain control of high streets, including: Simplifying the reporting of crimes and submitting evidence; Targeting regular offenders with prosecutions and banning orders; Providing clarity on the use of evidence and images; increasing police presence on high streets; Ensuring convictions lead to custodial sentences; And dismantling the networks used by organised criminals to traffic stolen goods.
While online shopping is growing, figures show 70% of retail sales still occur in-store. High streets foster community interactions and meaningful connections.
Andrew concluded: “Isolation is detrimental to people, as we’ve learned from Covid. High streets provide contact, social gatherings, and interaction – they require our support now more than ever to ensure their preservation.
“The commitment by police forces to pursue leads and solve crimes is a significant step towards achieving this goal. Bira stands ready to work collaboratively with all stakeholders to enhance security and safety on our high streets.”