Labour's Yvette Cooper and Alex Norris comment on tackling shoplifting gangs.

A law brought in by the Tories means shop thefts under £200 aren’t investigated even if the same gang comes back time and again. So Conference, we will end the £200 rule to tackle the shoplifting gangs…And conference we will stand with USDAW, the Co-op, Tesco, small convenience stores with a new law and tougher sentences for attacks on our shopworkers. 

Yvette Cooper, Labour Conference 2023

Levels of retail crime and violence, threats and abuse towards retail workers have increased significantly over recent months and years. Recent figures from the Co-op show there has been almost 300,000 incidents of shoplifting in their stores this year alone. Crucially, these instances often act as a flashpoint for violence, threats and abuse directed towards retail workers themselves. The Co-op has similarly seen a 36% rise in incidence of violence, and a 38% rise in incidents of abuse. In USDAW’s survey as part of their Respect for Shopworkers Week, their figures show that more than 7 out of 10 retail workers have been abused in the last 12 months. 49% of retail workers have been threatened with physical violence and 8% have been physically assaulted. These alarming rates are matched only by the devastating manner in which many of these attacks are carried out, where shoplifting often acts as a trigger for violence which has included the use of weapons such as knives, bottles, and needles. Whilst retailers themselves are taking steps to address retail crime there is a clear case that more needs to be done by Government to support them and protect retail workers from violence, threats and abuse in the form of a standalone offence for violence against retail workers.

Shop workers have been telling us for far too long that they are facing unacceptable levels of violence and abuse but they are being let down by a government that cannot keep the streets safe… Shop workers deserve dignity and respect. While the Tories take a back seat, Labour will introduce a new offence of abuse against shop workers so we can put an end to violence, threats, and abuse at work.. 

Alex Norris, Shadow Policing Minister 2024