The Co-op experienced almost 1,000 incidents of shoplifting, abuse, violence and anti-social behaviour every day across its stores during 2023, new figures have revealed.
The Manchester-headquartered group, which operates 2,400 shops across the country, saw over 250,000 incidents, a 44 per cent year-on-year increase.
The convenience retailer’s figures show there were over 1,325 physical assaults against store workers in 2023, up 34 per cent, while there were more than 40,000 incidents of anti-social behaviour and abuse, a rise of 37 per cent.
In response to the figures, The Co-op commissioned a report by Professor of Criminology at City, University of London, Emmeline Taylor, which sets out a ten point plan focused on “turning the tide on prolific offenders.”
Among the report’s recommendations is to make attacking a shopworker a stand-alone offence, with The Co-op urging MPs to back the amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill which is soon to be debated in Parliament.
According to The Co-op, specially trained undercover guards detained 3361 criminals in Co-op stores during 2023.
Earlier this year, the retailer reported that police failed to attend in 79 per cent of incidents where a criminal had been detained.
Co-op Food managing director Matt Hood said: “We are seeing far too many prolific offenders persistently steal large volumes of products, in our shops every day, and, if they are stealing to fund addictions, the situation often becomes volatile and dangerous.
“Crime is an occupation for some – it is not petty crime, and it is not victimless. It is imperative MPs don’t turn their backs on shopworkers, and vote through the amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill to give my colleagues the protection they deserve.
“Taking on board Professor Taylor’s recommendations, with a collaborative approach between the retail industry, the police, and the government, will send out a loud and clear message to all those who commit brazen and violent acts of theft that time is now up on their criminal ways.”
Professor Taylor added: “Retail crime not only impacts on a business’s ability to operate safely and profitably but as my report demonstrates it also causes serious harm to shop workers, both physically and mentally, and to communities that are blighted by persistent offending.
“The police in England and Wales have lost grip on the scale and severity of acquisitive crime, and, in turn, retailers have lost confidence in them and the wider criminal justice system.
“My report sets out ten actionable recommendations to turn the tide on the current tsunami of shop theft.
“By taking decisive action to tackle high-volume, high-impact retail crime, the police and retail industry can work together to create safer communities in which to live, work and shop.”