Retail Crime is on the Increase

The British Retail Consortium’s 2019 annual Retail Crime Survey found very concerning trends, with crime on the rise across all categories, from customer and employee theft to staff abuse and cyber attacks.

Retail crime statistics for 2019

Counting direct costs alone, crime cost the retail industry an estimated £900 million per year, up 28% from 2018. This doesn’t include indirect costs such as reduced efficiency, wasted employee time and the emotional and physical consequences of abuse.

As a result, spending on retail crime prevention is also at a record high, breaking the £1 billion a year mark in 2019, which is more than a four times increase over spending in 2015/16.

This increase in spending has coincided with a loss in faith in police powers to prevent or respond to retail crime, with retailers taking matters into their own hands with private security firms.

BRC’s survey found that growth in retail crime across all categories has risen by 40% year on year, though they noted that this increase may be partially driven by improved reporting. Either way, the reported increase is very concerning.

Customer theft, which accounts for 95% of reported retail crime, saw an increase of 33%. Though the smaller categories of retail crime only share 5% of the total, they each saw massive increases over 2018.

Employee theft rose by 129%, robbery by 508%, burglary by 137% and damage to premises and stock rose by 105%.

Correct tracking for abuse towards employees only began in the 2019 survey so there is no comparative data, but interviews with employees who experienced violent or verbal abuse showed just how damaging such incidents can be to employee well-being and performance.

90% of respondents said that they had seen a growth in gang-related incidents and none reported a reduction, while half experienced an increase in racially-aggravated incidents, consistent with crime trends across the UK.

What do the BRC recommend to prevent retail crime?

CCTV remains the core of retail security, and the BRC recommends the use of latest generation high-tech CCTV systems. Years ago, CCTV was rarely actively monitored and was primarily a deterrent and a means of gathering evidence after theft or abuse had occurred.

Thanks to advances in internet-connected CCTV, cameras can now be monitored live by dedicated security officers in centralised locations, such as our own control rooms at Magenta Security.

These systems allow real time monitoring, identification of incidents and known troublemakers with immediate communication between the security officer monitoring the CCTV and the security guards and staff in the store.

We will also soon be seeing market ready facial recognition systems for CCTV which allow for immediate alerts when known troublemakers, repeat offenders and criminals are detected.

Interviewees in the BRC stated that they felt far safer after manned security had been introduced to their workplace despite CCTV already being installed. This shows the importance of having security officers on site not just to prevent crime but to improve employee confidence.

Finally, the BRC noted the importance of accurate reporting and information sharing with the police and across stores, as well as staff training for deescalating aggression to reduce the likelihood of violent incidents – a service we offer at Magenta Security.

Concerned about the rise in retail crime? Call Magenta Security now

At Magenta Security, we pride ourselves in providing robust security solutions for all levels of retail businesses, from boutique stores to bustling markets and vast retail parks. To learn more about the security services available for retailers, click here.

Identifying the right solution for you begins with a risk assessment from one of our SIA-certified security managers, who will identify the threats to your business and provide advice on the security solution that fits best with your budget.

To book a visit, call our award-winning customer service team now on 0800 772 3786.

Abbey Petkar

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