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Cost of crime in retail 'increased 18% in 2014'

The direct cost of crime in the UK retail sector increased a staggering 18 per cent in 2014, with shoplifting, fraud and cybercrime reaching their highest levels since records began a decade ago.

This is according to the latest British Retail Consortium (BRC) Crime Survey, published last week (January 20th). According to the industry body, the 12-month period saw firms out of pocket to the tune of £603 million as a result of criminal activity.

An estimated three million offences took place across the sector, with almost 700,000 recorded incidents involving loss or damage to property. The average cost per offence was £1,031, up 36 per cent on 2013.

cost of crime

Finally, the BRC recorded 32 incidents of violence and abuse against staff per 1,000 employees, of which almost half (13) involved physical altercations.

According to Bobby Logue, the editor of security industry journal, the figures should be taken as an impetus for retailers to step up their focus on preventative measures such as staff training, cyber defences and manned guarding.

"Is the rise as a result of a lack of investment in security or are the criminals just getting smarter? ... The answer is probably a mixture of both," he wrote.

Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC, echoed these sentiments: "Criminal activity against UK retailers continues to have wide-ranging consequences for businesses, employees and the vast majority of honest shoppers," she commented. "It is clear that retailers are facing an increasingly sophisticated criminal."

The BRC report also put forward some of the reasons that tackling crime against the retail sector - as well as businesses in general - is so important.

Part of this is the fact that the impact of business crime is not exclusively financial - it also affects employees and the local community or general public. A big break-in at a retail outlet can damage perceptions of the surrounding area, the BRC noted.

"Retail is at the very heart of the UK economy. The sector is proud to be integral to the economic recovery," Ms Dickinson wrote in the introduction to the report. "Crime suffered by retailers acts as one barrier to their growth and profitability, yet it is often overlooked."

As such, the BRC reiterated its perennial call for greater collaboration between police and businesses to stem the tide of crime in retail. It welcomed the fact that almost half of forces in the UK have now adopted a national definition of business crime, noting that universal implementation is an important first step towards better management and analysis of the risk factors.

Once this is possible, the BRC expects to see firms use business crime data to develop their own preventative strategies and combat threats with the best possible mix of cyber and physical security measures.


Posted by Andrew Miller

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