Last week I met with the shop workers’ union USDAW about their campaign to protect their members from violence and abuse.

I know that in recent months we’ve seen a surge in retail crime, burglaries, and shoplifting in Lancaster especially. The number of thefts across the England and Wales rose by 25 per cent from last year.

Police recorded 339,206 shoplifting incidents in the 12 months to March, yet the British Retail Consortium estimates the total number of retail thefts to be close to eight million. Sadly just 14% of thefts resulted in a charge.

We also know that over the course of the pandemic, intimidation and violence towards shop staff increased by over 7%.

These worrying rises in crime are all symptoms of a much larger problem, starting with the rising-cost-living as well as stretched resources amongst our hardworking police force.

We need far stronger action aimed at tackling retail crime and abuse. I’m pleased that USDAW are drawing attention to this worsening issue and I support their calls to make abuse against retail workers a specific offence.

As well as working with USDAW, just this week I’m pleased that following some of my enquiries to Lancashire Police on behalf of local businesses who had been hit by thefts, that they have now been added to the local police patrol plan.

No one should go to work in fear of violence, our retail workers do an essential job and in the run up to Christmas shopping especially, please remember to treat others how you’d like to be treated.

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