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M&S Chairman says police ‘not interested’ in dealing with shoplifting

Chloe Burney
14 May 2024

Archie Norman, the Chairman of Marks & Spencer, has claimed police are "not interested" in tackling shoplifting, meaning retailers are left to spend "a lot of money" to keep crime rates down amid a wave of thefts.

Norman said shoplifting rates in M&S stores were down, but this was "mostly" because of work by the retailer to tackle offences. In an attempt to keep crime rates down, retailers are installing new camera systems and store detectives, according to The Telegraph.

"We get very little help from the police. I think we have to accept that the police are not interested in this sort of crime anymore. Whether we like it or not, that’s the way it has gone", said Norman on LBC’s Nick Ferrari at Breakfast.

Archie Norman, M&S Chairman

Archie Norman, Chairman at M&S

Figures published last week suggested that just 3% of shoplifting offences were being solved by police in some parts of the UK. A nationwide analysis of store thefts by area revealed that locations including Soho in London, Cardiff and Leeds were struggling with high crime rates.

The British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) annual survey, which was published in February, found that the amount lost to shoplifting in the latest year was the highest ever recorded.

The number of incidents against staff rose by 50% to 1,300 per day in the year to September 2023, from 870 the year before. About 8,800 of the total across the year resulted in injury. Shoplifting cost retailers about £1.8 billion in the latest year, the highest recorded amount and the first time it has surpassed the £1 billion mark, the BRC said.

Some of the retailers surveyed noted that the impact of the cost-of-living crisis changed the nature of shoplifting from one or two items to many.

Norman corroborated this, adding: "When people are hard up, or particularly when there’s a growth in other forms of crime, particularly drugs-related crime, then one way of financing it is to go and steal from shops… it’s understandable given what we’ve been through in the last couple of years, we’ve seen more of that."

Some retailers have resorted to giving shop floor workers body cameras to deter criminals. Meanwhile, others have installed technology to monitor what customers are putting in their bags at self-service checkouts.

Met Police commander Owain Richards assured that the police force was working with retailers across London to tackle the rise in theft. He said: "We know first-hand the impact that retail crime has on staff and businesses. We have renewed our commitment to tackling shoplifting and retail crime in collaboration with the wider business community... Our call handlers will assess each and every report and make an assessment based on available lines of enquiry."

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