Unprecedented levels of crime, shoplifting, and anti-social behaviour have taken a grim toll on Co-op shops across the UK, with incidents having surged by over a third in the past year.
These alarming statistics, released by the Co-op itself, reveal that an average of 1,000 incidents are occurring daily in stores, totalling more than 175,000 in the first half of 2023 alone. A particularly targeted inner London shop suffered the indignity of being looted three times in one day.
Adding to the worry, shop workers have reported a nearly one-third increase in physical assaults year-on-year, coupled with a fifth increase in verbal abuse and anti-social behaviour.
Co-op officials warn that crime levels have spiralled “out of control,” and if left unchecked, could render certain locations no-go zones for convenience shops. The troubling rise in crime rates could spell disaster for both staff and customers alike.
Co-op Food Managing Director, Matt Hood, lamented, “I have seen some horrific incidents of brazen and violent theft in our stores, where my store colleagues feel scared and threatened. This criminal behaviour not only impacts our team but also erodes the fabric of our communities. The need for urgent change cannot be overstated.”
The Co-op points a finger at local organised crime gangs that seemingly operate without fear of reprisal. It has issued a clear call to action for police and crime commissioners to “play their part” in targeting prolific offenders.
However, a Freedom of Information request initiated by the Co-op shows a disturbing trend: police failed to respond to 71% of serious retail crimes reported.
James Lowman, the Chief Executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, stated that this rampant criminal activity not only exploits vulnerable people but also funds the illegal drug trade.
The Workers Union Says…
“In the face of such an escalation, Co-op workers, The Workers Union, and the communities they serve are calling for immediate action to bring this abuse under control. The urgent need for intervention grows as the safety and livelihoods of thousands of workers hang in the balance.”