The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is seeking urgent reassurances that a range of critical issues thrown up by escalating lawlessness on the streets of London and other UK cities are being addressed. The BRC plans to put these points directly to Home Secretary Theresa May.
Violence during the past few days has resulted in shops being wrecked, looted and set on fire. Retailers are calling for intelligence-led information to help them protect their properties and want reassurances those responsible for vandalism and theft will be suitably punished.
The BRC has outlined a number of critical issues which it wants to raise on behalf of retailers, including:
- Assurances the police and fire services are adequately resourced and equipped, and are authorised to use robust operational tactics to close down situations quickly;
- Assurances there will be resolute pursuit of offenders with effective prosecutions, in contrast to the West End protests earlier this year;
- Immediate support to help shopkeepers protect their properties, including timely intelligence and practical assistance in securing and clearing up after attacks;
- Early discussions on how affected communities can be helped to recover, given the likelihood that a significant number of small shops will fail following these attacks;
- Joint discussions with the insurance industry to ensure affordable insurance remains available in the affected areas and more widely to the sector;
- Joint discussions with the banks to ensure short to medium term credit arrangements enable retailers to refit and re-open.
British Retail Consortium Director General, Stephen Robertson, said: “The shocking levels of lawlessness breaking out across the UK are hitting the heart of our communities. The police have shown great courage in facing the vandals but it is imperative retailers know that resources and plans are in place to prevent any repeat of this trouble.
“Targeting local shops as an expression of anger and frustration is mindless. These criminal acts destroy community resources, hurting local businesses and threatening people’s jobs. Staff are being intimidated and traumatised. Those responsible must be prosecuted and punished. Retailers and their staff are particularly vulnerable and need protecting.
“As well as the immediate bills caused by damage and theft, there will be longer-term costs. Inevitably some businesses which have been attacked will never open their doors again. Banks need to offer good credit arrangements to those targeted so as many as possible have a chance to refit and reopen.
“I’m reassured that many people have expressed their disgust at the events of the past few days. I hope they’ll join retailers in doing all they can to rebuild their neighbourhoods.”