Putting Victims First: Restorative Justice and Retail Crime

Published: Thursday, March 9th, 2023

This is a blog by Communications and Events Officer Keeva Baxter and Why me? Consultant Trevor Watson.


Last week, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) released their annual Crime Survey for 2023. The latest figures reveal that violence and abuse towards retail staff has almost doubled compared to pre-pandemic levels. As the BRC point out in their new report, retail crime has an enormous effect on the staff who are subjected to it, leading to both physical and emotional trauma. In turn this leads to increased staff absences, reduced feelings of safety in the workplace and the local community, and the overall cost including prevention reached a staggering £1.76 billion.

The report finds:

  • 867 incidents of violence and abuse every day
  • 316,000 incidents of retail crime a year
  • Retail staff are being physically assaulted and threatened with weapons

Violence and abuse against people working in retail, including racial and sexual abuse, physical assault, and threats with weapons has almost doubled on pre-pandemic levels. The disturbing scale of violence and abuse faced by retail workers every single day is why last summer, 100 retail CEOs wrote to 41 Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales, calling on them to commit to making retail crime a priority in local policing strategies.

Why me? recognise that victims of retail crime can be overlooked and need to be better supported. With so many crimes going unreported and unprosecuted, the voices of people affected by crime can be lost in the Criminal Justice System.

We believe that Restorative Justice can support victims of crime to have their voices heard and get the justice they need to continue their work. It can also allow people who have been committing crime the opportunity to see the consequences of their actions, change their behaviour and make a positive contribution to their community.

Why me? are working with Devon & Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner to try to support retailers in Torquay town centre using Restorative Justice. The project, supported by the Home Office, aims to make communities and retailers safer, reduce retail crime and the staff absences it causes, and increase staff confidence. Why me? have also met with representatives of the National Business Crime Centre to discuss how we can improve the information to retailers regarding access to local restorative services nationally.

The figures in the new BRC Crime Survey show how retail crime is escalating. Something needs to be done to repair the harm caused by these crimes and reduce the likelihood of repeat offending. Restorative Justice can be transformative for people affected by crime and we hope to use our ‘Putting Victims First’ project to impact levels of retail crime in Torquay and demonstrate the positive impact it can have on the local community.

Find out more about the project

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