In response to the staggering rise in shoplifting across the West of England, Mayor Dan Norris is introducing “Safer Shops West”, supporting local stores to install much-needed security measures.
The Mayor will make the announcement at an event in London on cutting crime and making Britain's streets safer tomorrow. According to ONS data, Avon and Somerset has seen a 41% increase in shoplifting this year.
Shoplifting costs Bath and North East Somerset dear, with retailers losing cash, forcing them to raise prices at a time when locals are already struggling with rising bills in the cost-of-living crisis.
Shops are also seeing a rise in attacks on workers. Shoplifting is the main trigger for violence and abuse suffered by retail workers according to trade union USDAW.
“Safer Shops West” will allow independent shops to receive £2,000 towards the costs of security measures such as CCTV, screens, body cams and hand-held radios. While many national chains have increased security spend, on average, the installation of essential security measures costs independent retailers over £4,500 - an expenditure that is very challenging for many.
West of England Mayor Dan Norris said: “I have been shocked by what shopkeepers have been telling me. I knew I had to act. There is a daily battle going on with shoplifters with brazen thieves swiping high value goods off shelves.
"This level of out-of-control crime is unsustainable and risks some communities losing local stores.”
Welcoming the move, James Lowman, Chief Executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, said: “Independent convenience store retailers and their colleagues are too often the victims of shop theft and violent crime. Convenience stores across the UK invested £228m in crime prevention measures last year, but much of this would have been made by larger businesses. This funding will help small businesses to make their stores less attractive to criminals and safer for retailers and their colleagues.
"We strongly encourage retailers to apply for these West of England Mayoral Combined Authority grants to fund the right security measures for their store, and we have free guidance to help them to identify the most effective use of these funds.”
Mike Walker – Usdaw Regional Secretary for the South West, added: “There is a retail crime crisis, with Avon and Somerset suffering a 41% increase in police recorded incidents of shoplifting. Theft from shops has effectively been decriminalised.
“We welcome local initiatives to tackle this growing shoplifting epidemic and the action Dan Norris is taking as the West of England Mayor by introducing the ‘Safer Shops West’ initiative is much needed."