Bira CEO, Andrew Goodacre's latest comments

"This has become blight on our high streets, with significantly more incidents of theft, greater volumes of products being stolen and increased abuse of business owners and staff.

"The current government lunched a retail crime plan and there was evidence that this might have been having a positive effect. However, when I talk to indie retailers about this issue , two priorities come to the fore. Firstly we would like to see more police presence on the high streets and in the neighbourhoods – physical presence is the greatest deterrent to theft, violence and anti-social behaviours. Secondly we want greater legal protection for business owners and their employees.

"Just prior to the election, abuse of retail staff was set to become a stand alone offence. We want to ensure that this law is enforced post election - irrespective of who forms the government."


About retail crime

Retail crime refers to criminal activities that specifically target retail establishments, such as shops, supermarkets, or shopping centres.  

These crimes can have significant financial, operational, and emotional impacts on retailers and their employees.  

The UK government, along with industry associations such as Bira and retailers, continuously works towards combating retail crime through awareness campaigns, initiatives, and legislation to protect businesses and their employees, while also ensuring the safety and security of customers. 



Our position

  1. Address issues by collaborating between retailers, the public, and law enforcement 

  2. Engaging with local police forces and crime commissioners to ensure business crime is a priority 

  3. Advocating for stronger laws and legislation that specifically address retail crime 

  4. Working with the Home Office and other retail associations to increase awareness about the negative impact of retail crime 

  5. Highlighting the need for cost-effective security measures  

  6. Ensure the development of initiatives, resources, and campaigns that support retailers, improve security measures, and raise public awareness

What you can do

Visit our Safe Retailing Hub here for more information and resources to help independent retailers.

Keep us informed by letting us know of any current issues, opinions or updates. Email 

The premiere Podcast of "High Street Matters" tackles the escalating retail crime crisis plaguing Britain's high streets. Listen today!

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Key aspects

Types of Retail Crime: Retail crime encompasses various offences, including shoplifting, theft, fraud, vandalism, robbery, employee theft, organised retail crime, and customer violence. Each type of crime poses unique challenges and risks for retailers.

Impact on Businesses: Retail crime can result in direct financial losses for businesses through stolen merchandise or damaged property. It can also lead to indirect costs, such as increased security measures, loss prevention efforts, insurance premiums, and the need for legal assistance. Moreover, incidents of crime can harm a retailer's reputation, deter customers, and negatively impact staff morale.

Shoplifting: Shoplifting is one of the most common retail crimes. It involves the theft of merchandise by customers. Retailers employ various measures to prevent shoplifting, such as surveillance systems, security tags, visible deterrents, and trained loss prevention staff.

Employee Theft: Employee theft refers to theft committed by staff members. This can include stealing merchandise, manipulating transactions, or embezzling funds. Retailers implement internal controls, training programs, and monitoring systems to minimise the risk of employee theft. 

Organised Retail Crime (ORC): ORC involves professional criminals who systematically target multiple retailers to steal large quantities of merchandise for resale or illicit distribution. These criminal networks can be highly organised and pose significant challenges for retailers. Cooperation between retailers, law enforcement agencies, and industry associations is crucial in combating organised retail crime.

Violence and Aggression: Retail workers can be subjected to verbal abuse, threats, physical assaults, or acts of aggression from customers or criminals. Ensuring the safety of employees is a priority for retailers, and measures such as security personnel, training in conflict resolution, and the use of panic buttons or emergency response systems are employed to mitigate risks.

Prevention and Security Measures: Retailers employ various security measures to prevent and reduce retail crime, including surveillance cameras, alarm systems, electronic article surveillance (EAS) tags, secure storage, access controls, and trained security personnel. Collaboration with local law enforcement, sharing information within the retail sector, and implementing crime prevention strategies are important in deterring criminal activity.

Reporting and Cooperation: Retailers are encouraged to report incidents of retail crime to the police, as it helps in the identification, apprehension, and prosecution of offenders. Cooperation among retailers, law enforcement agencies, and industry bodies is vital to share intelligence, exchange best practices, and develop proactive strategies to address retail crime effectively.

Additional information

While retail crime isn’t huge for independents, it is still a problem and Bira does address these issues. 

Impact on Independent Retailers

While smaller shops may be easier to monitor and have closer relationships with their customers, they can still be affected by retail crime. The financial losses, damage to property, and emotional toll caused by theft, vandalism, or customer aggression can have a significant impact on independent retailers. 

Increase in Customer Abuse and Theft

It's unfortunate that there has been an increase in abusive behaviour and theft in retail settings. This not only affects the wellbeing of shop employees but also creates an unsafe and unpleasant environment for other customers. Addressing these issues requires collaboration between retailers, the public, and law enforcement. 

Importance of Local Police and Crime Commissioners

Engaging with local police forces and crime commissioners is crucial in making business crime a priority. It's necessary to work towards better responses, increased patrols, and improved collaboration between retailers and law enforcement agencies to effectively tackle retail crime. 

Strengthening Laws and Legislation

Advocating for stronger laws and legislation that specifically address retail crime can provide a legal framework for prosecuting offenders and deterring potential criminals. This may include harsher penalties for theft, improved powers for law enforcement agencies, and targeted initiatives to combat retail crime. 

Collaboration with Home Office and Retail Associations

Working together with the Home Office and other retail associations such as Bira is a positive step in increasing awareness about the negative impact of retail crime. Collaborative efforts can lead to the development of initiatives, resources, and campaigns that support retailers, improve security measures, and raise public awareness. 

Cost of Security Measures

Smaller independent retailers may face challenges in affording sophisticated security measures such as CCTV systems or dedicated security staff. Finding cost-effective alternatives, such as shared security arrangements with neighbouring shops or exploring local community support, can help address these limitations. 


Addressing retail crime requires a multi-faceted approach involving collaboration between retailers, law enforcement agencies, government bodies, and local communities. By working together, raising awareness, improving security measures, and advocating for stronger laws, it is possible to mitigate the impact of retail crime on independent businesses and create safer retail environments for all.