Connect with us


Shop theft, abuse and violence ‘now commonplace across Scotland’



Shop theft, abuse, threatening behaviour, and violence is “now commonplace” in newsagents and grocery stores across Scotland, according to the CEO of a trade body.

Dr Pete Cheema, chief executive of the Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF), said some of its members are now refusing to come to work as a result of the situation.

He said: “Almost every week we are told of another terrible incident in one of our members’ stores.

“From machete and knife attacks to organised gangs roving through communities targeting vulnerable businesses to loot. It’s completely understandable that some members of staff are now refusing to come to work for fear of their safety.

“Sadly, these incidents and many others even more distressing and harrowing cases of shop theft, abuse, threatening behaviour, and violence are now commonplace in stores right across Scotland. Our annual survey of Scottish convenience stores shows just how bad things have become.”

Dr Cheema was speaking after new figures showed an escalation in retail crime over the past year.

A new report from the SGF revealed the average cost of such crime skyrocketed to £12,164 per store in 2023/24.

Information gathered for the report and published ahead of the SGF annual crime and wellbeing seminar on Thursday showed:

  • 100% of convenience retailers agree that shoplifting has increased in the past year, while 99.5% say that shoplifting is now a daily occurrence.
  • More than nine out of every ten stores report that violence against staff occurs at least once a week and hate crime once a month (92.8% and 92.7% respectively)
  • Over half (56.9%) of respondents also report experiencing daily incidents of abuse when refusing a sale or when asking for proof of age.

Analysis of the data also reveals a fall in confidence in the Scottish justice system to tackle the growing problem of retail crime.

More than two thirds of respondents say they are either unlikely or very unlikely to report shoplifting incidents to the police.

Dr Sheema added: “It’s not just the escalating price tag of theft and vandalism that is costing convenience businesses, but harm to the physical health and wellbeing of retailers and staff. That trauma is then carried home to people’s families and their local communities.

“That is why we desperately need ministers to take urgent action, now. The police and courts can’t cope, and many crimes are going unreported because retailers don’t believe the authorities will respond.

“Offenders know they’re unlikely to face any consequences for their crimes and even if they are arrested, many will spend years awaiting conviction.   

“We are urging the Scottish Government to act now, before things get even worse. If not now, then when?”

Retail union Usdaw said earlier this week that a survey of more than 5,500 shop staff showed that almost one in five suffered a violent attack last year, compared with 8% in 2022.

The union said its study found that in the last year 70% of respondents had experienced verbal abuse, 43% were threatened by a customer and 18% were assaulted.

The Scottish Government said it recognises the significant disruption and harm retail crime causes, adding that it condemns any violence against retail workers and would urge victims and to report crimes to Police Scotland.

A spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government supported the Protection of Workers (Scotland) Act 2021 and has subsequently worked with partners including the Scottish Grocers Federation and Crimestoppers to run an awareness campaign about the impact of abuse, threats and violence on retail staff, and to highlight the crucial role they play in our communities.

“In addition, we continue to support Police Scotland and key stakeholders in the development of a collaborative approach to the prevention, deterrence and enforcement of a range of crimes including shoplifting.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News

Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

Continue Reading