Retail Crime Reaches Crisis Levels with Soaring Violence and Theft

A shocking new report from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) reveals an explosion in violence and theft plaguing UK retail establishments over the past year. The number of violent incidents against retail workers surged to a staggering 1,300 per day in 2022/2023, representing a nearly 50% increase from 870 daily attacks the previous year.  


This shows a wider backdrop of escalting crime that saw theft double from £953 million to £1.8 billion over the same period. “Criminals are being given a free pass to steal goods and abuse retail colleagues,” warns BRC CEO Helen Dickinson. Overall crime costs borne by retailers doubled to £3.3 billion as preventative investments in security measures failed to curb the crisis.


Troy Hewitt, CEO of security solutions provider Assist Security Group, underlines concerning trends: “From luxury boutiques to corner stores, retailers face an onslaught of theft and emboldened criminals who increasingly turn violent. It’s clear bolstered security provisions are essential to counter retail crime, with security providers working closely with retailers both at store and at Board level.” 


The prevalence of threats, harassment and assault now matches pandemic levels when anti-social behaviour peaked over COVID rules. However, while pandemic triggers fade, a toxic climate enabling abuse of retail staff persists. “Every day, retail staff are facing the consequences of shoplifters’ brazen behaviour,” notes Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne.


Hewitt continues, “Retail employees never signed up to withstand daily traumatic events just for doing their jobs. We must challenge the normalisation of abuse against frontline staff.


“Security and awareness training empowers retail teams with skills that are essential in contributing to staff safety and protection. This really should be part of any staff induction programme, with regular reviews. At ASG we assess the security threats and risks for the store and staff, and also the current capabilities, then tailor each training course to build critical knowledge and boost technical proficiency, such in understanding security procedures and technology. This helps install a confident mindset to handle threats and plays an active role in staff and site security.”


Some 60% of retailers rate the police response as “poor” or “very poor”, leaving perpetrators undeterred. With over 1,300 daily violent acts and 45,000 daily thefts, current policies fail to protect staff or public safety. In light of alarming crime statistics, retailers are urgently pressing government leaders for dedicated legal offences covering assault and threats towards retail workers.  


Legal Protection for Staff


Similar “protection of workers” laws enacted in Scotland last year signal this behaviour will not be tolerated. Hewitt says, “Official statistics would help police forces allocate sufficient resources to combat surges of crime that target retail outlets. Further preventative planning around peak trading periods can mitigate risks.” 


He concludes, “Introducing specific legal deterrents represents the bare minimum we owe retail employees. Behind the numbers are real people facing situations no one should have to endure just for doing their job. As an industry, we have a collective duty to enable secure operating environments that protect frontline retail staff.”


With violence and theft doubling in one year alone, the situation constitutes a national crisis requiring urgent leadership and action before trends worsen. The time to implement robust, collaborative policies that prevent retail crime and protect employees is now. 




With expertise securing leading retail brands globally, ASG provides bespoke security and loss prevention solutions tailored to clients’ unique needs and situational risks. Trusted by luxury boutiques, department stores, shopping malls and more, ASG’s retail team comprises seasoned security directors and loss prevention specialists.


Key services assisting retailers to mitigate risks in light of swelling crime rates include:


– On-site physical security personnel

– Close protection services

– Remote monitoring and CCTV solutions

– Corporate intelligence and investigations

– Custom emergency planning and response protocols

– Specialist training for security and frontline retail teams


Blending operational excellence with a collaborative approach, ASG builds partnerships focused on enabling secure, successful retail operations. With every solution guided by leading practices honed over 30 years, ASG strives to exceed expectations from boutique fashion houses to large-scale flagship stores.  


Discover how our bespoke retail security and loss prevention strategies can enable your continued success by contacting ASG today.


Contact ASG for information or a security audit to assess vulnerabilities in your organisation, visit to speak with one of our security experts in confidence. Act now to gain actionable insights that enable you to secure your people, property and profits. Email: or call 0208 543 6670

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