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Following a Zoom meeting between James Kelly MSP and the Scottish district’s political committee, Mr Kelly has written to the Scottish economy secretary asking for government support to help retailers tackle the increase in retail crime.

Mr Kelly has also drafted the following parliamentary question: “To ask the Scottish government if it will consider the creation of a fund to support retailers in increasing their CCTV and security systems in light of an increase in crime during the pandemic.”

In his letter to the economy secretary, Mr Kelly said: “From personal accounts of shop owners, I gather that police will attend incidents once reported but that it is difficult to escalate matters through the criminal justice system thereafter, due to a lack of evidence.

“Shop workers have been more vulnerable to mistreatment and abuse throughout the course of the pandemic, particularly given they have had to enforce the wearing of face masks. Furthermore, with reduced staff covering shifts due to social distancing measures, workers can be left more vulnerable to harm.

“NFRN have put to me their frustrations that, despite this increased risk, the current security systems of small retailers are not always sufficient to capture occurrences or the extent of crime in their stores. As a result, they feel that shop owners, workers and customers are being left vulnerable and are feeling unsafe.

“Shop owners and workers have worked in direct contact with the public under extremely challenging circumstances during the pandemic and small retailers are important aspects of the community within which they trade.

“I am sure you will share my gratitude for retail staff over this past year and will agree that they should be afforded maximum protection. My colleague Daniel Johnson MSP’s Bill is an excellent step in affording workers the protections they deserve.

“Further to the legislation, I write to you in the hope that you may consider introducing financial support to help retailers cover the costs of upgrading their CCTV security systems so that they are able to sufficiently capture evidence of any violations of the law in their stores and can provide maximum protection for their staff and customers alike.”

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