FMB Radio spoke to retail workers in Nottingham’s John Lewis about the rise in shoplifting, and the recent initiatives of their boss, Sharon White. Detailing the findings is FMB Radio’s Jessica Milner.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis, there has been an increase in shoplifting throughout the UK, with Nottingham seeing one of the biggest rises in shoplifting. We looked into what Nottinghamshire Police have done to tackle this ongoing problem for its businesses and retail workers.
Nottinghamshire police are hoping to deter offenders with increased patrols. Additionally, Nottinghamshire police have launched ‘Operation Motivation’. Working with licensed businesses, new measures have been implemented to report anyone who attempts to sell items to customers or staff that they have stolen. Any licensee who ignores such protocol will risk getting their license taken away.
But it’s not just police who are capable of aiding retail workers with this increase in theft. Big businesses such as the John Lewis Partnership and Tesco are supplying their workers with body cameras to catch shoplifters and keep retail workers safe. John Lewis and Waitrose shops also offer free tea and coffee to local police officers, in order to encourage police presence in their shops and deter people from shoplifting.
When FMB Radio spoke to staff at John Lewis to ask how much they had noticed the rise in shoplifting, the majority said that they had noticed more than usual in the past year. Most attributed this to the cost of living crisis, as more people are struggling to pay for the basics.
Regarding Nottinghamshire Police, most staff expressed how they didn’t think the police were doing enough to support businesses and retail workers; although they did express the fact that John Lewis has its own security team who are able to provide all-day surveillance in their stores.
Two staff members we spoke to voiced their opinions on shoplifting and ways in which it could be prevented:
Do you think shoplifting has increased in the past year and why?
Employee 1: “Yes, because of the living crisis. People are desperate and will sell on to get money. Also the punishment isn’t hard enough: people just get a ‘slap on the wrist’.”
Employee 2: “Yes, with the cost of living crisis, people are using the opportunity to sell on.”
Have you noticed a different demographic of people stealing recently?
Employee 1: “Absolutely, the ‘common thief’ could be anybody nowadays.”
Employee 2: “Yes, it’s harder to judge the type of person nowadays.”
Are Nottingham police doing enough to tackle shoplifting?
Employee 1: “I am unsure of what they are doing exactly, but I don’t think the police in general can do much.”
Employee 2: “Well, my son works for Nottinghamshire Police so I know that he deals with more domestic crimes when he is on call. The police do not have enough time or resources to be present around shops to deter shoplifting.”
So you think there should be harsher punishments?
Employee 1: “Oh definitely.”
Employee 2: “The punishment is not harsh enough for shoplifters and banning them from the store is not enough. We could possibly tag them so they are visible to retail workers when they come into shops?”
And Sharon White’s initiative, have you noticed any change in police presence in John Lewis and Waitrose shops?
Employee 1: “To be honest, no but for me I think that her coffee initiative is silly, police officers have enough crime to tackle, they don’t have enough time for a coffee whilst they are on shift.”
Employee 2: “I did not know that Sharon White had launched an initiative! Maybe she should have advertised that to police officers more. It could work, but I haven’t noticed a difference in police presence in the store.”
Anything else you would like to add?
Employee 2: “I think shoplifting will only get worse. With shoplifters easily being able to steal goods and sell them on, I fear they are becoming more well-off than those who are working.”
From these findings, Nottinghamshire Police could be doing more; however, they also acknowledge the difficulties surrounding the subject. With the police forces underfunded and stretched, it is hard to tackle the rise in shoplifting.
From our interviews, initiatives such as Sharon White’s free coffee for local police were unheard of by staff in Nottingham’s John Lewis. The issue of shoplifting is a hard one to tackle, and although bosses are trying to do their best, there are signs that this issue is not going away anytime soon.
For support during the cost of living crisis please see below:
East and West Nottingham Food Bank:
List of Food Banks in Nottingham:
Hope Nottingham Food Bank:
Cost of Living Support:
Featured image courtesy of Jessica Milner. Image has been cropped vertically. Permission granted to be used.
In article image courtesy of Jessica Milner. Image has been cropped vertically. Permission granted to be used.
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