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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 June, 2003, 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK
Government 'failing shops on crime'
Security camera
Retailers have spent heavily on security
The cost of crime to UK shopkeepers is being ignored by the government, according to an industry body.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said crime and security measures cost retailers 2.2bn last year.

Retail crime losses fell slightly last year, but the BRC said this was solely due to the efforts of the industry as the government did not "appear to care" about the problem.

But the Home Office said it was "very prepared to play its part in the fight against crime".

Vulnerable

The BRC said crimes cost shops 1.7bn last year, down from 2001's figure of 1.8bn.

The government doesn't appear to care that (crime) cost the industry and therefore our customers 2.2bn in 2002
Bill Moyes, British Retail Consortium

Retailers also spent 0.5bn on crime prevention measures last year, such as in-store cameras and security tags.

"Fraud and theft are problems that are common to all retailers," said Chris Saul, director of retail security software specialists Conchango.

"Every penny of fraud that is detected goes straight onto the bottom line."

According to the BRC, the most common crime (44%) was theft by customers, including shoplifting and deception.

Thefts by staff accounted for 37% of the crimes committed.

Threats of violence against shop workers also rose from five incidents for every 1,000 staff in 2001 to 18 per 1,000 last year.

"Retail crime losses are broadly static thanks to the efforts of retailers, but the government doesn't appear to care that it cost the industry and therefore our customers 2.2bn in 2002," said the BRC's director general Bill Moyes.

"Small businesses are particularly vulnerable - they are more likely to be burgled or robbed and their staff are twice as likely to suffer physical violence."

Taking responsibility

The Home Office announced on Tuesday that it was giving 6m to shops in run down areas to improve security.

The money was the final instalment from a 15m Security for Small Retailers scheme.

"The government is very prepared to play its part in the fight against crime," the Home Office said in a statement.

"We have put 15m into a scheme specifically to help small retailers but everyone, including retailers, have the responsibility to do what they can to take sensible precautions to reduce crime and disorder, that is why we are working with the BRC on these matters."




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Nicola Carslaw
"Shop crimes are costing every household"



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