Dave Whittle, CEO at Positive Response, discusses the true cost of retail crime in his fourth blog for Infologue.com. Dave writes: “With the release of the Crime Against Business report at the end of last month, we now have a clearer picture of the issue of retail crime, including which crimes are on the rise, the measures taken to prevent them and what these crimes are costing the sector.
“Wholesale and retail premises have consistently experienced higher levels of crime compared to other sectors. Since 2013, these statistics have shown a steady decrease in the amount of crime committed. However, while crime is on a downward trend, the number of assaults and threats experienced by a single victim has increased; on average, affected premises will experience more than one crime a month. As the same victims are repeatedly targeted by criminals, the evidence seems to suggest that these premises and people are vulnerable, ‘easy’ targets.
“Retail crime has a negative impact, both directly and indirectly, on a business’s bottom line. Stolen or damaged goods and property have to be account for, reputation can be lost, absenteeism may increase, and staff turnover will rise. The direct cost of crime to the UK retail industry is at the highest it has even been, at over £600 million last year. This is an increase of two per cent from the previous year and is equivalent to over 50,000 retail jobs. However, what is more concerning is the impact it can have on staff morale, health, and wellbeing.
“There were approximately 41 incidents of violence or abuse per 1,000 employees last year. With 300,000 retail outlets in the UK employing around 3 million employees, that puts the number of incidents at 123,000 per year. These incidents of crime directed at staff in the workplace can have a serious negative effect on their physical and mental health.
“Trying to handle an incident first hand puts employees at risk of physical or verbal abuse from the perpetrator, which can result in staff requiring time off for a variety health reasons, particularly stress. Poor wellbeing caused by being a victim of crime at work can lead to stress, which has been known to cause migraines, ulcers, heart disease, and mental illness.
“Many employees come away from criminal incidents feeling vulnerable and the prospect of returning to work can be frightening, leading to greater absences. Employees that do return to work often become less productive due to lower morale. This can be attributed to staff feeling vulnerable and uncertain in the workplace, as well as believing that they are not valued or appreciated by the business, as their safety has been undermined.
“There are a number of security solutions available to a retailer to help combat crime. However, very few can simultaneously offer support and comfort to the employees facing these difficult situations. CCTV cameras and alarms can frighten criminals away and help the police, but only with the introduction of microphones, loudspeakers, PIR two-way communication and alert/panic buttons, are retailers able to tackle crime against their business and their staff; reducing the true cost of retail crime to a minimum.”
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