Contact Us: 0207 017 8880

On the anniversary of the introduction of a new law to protect shopworkers, the Fed’s Scottish president has laid bare the impact that retail crime has on independent retailers.

In an article published in leading Scottish newspaper, The Herald, Aleem Farooqi also called for the landmark legislation to be fully enforced.

He said: “Corner stores can’t usually afford security guards and at some times in the day they may be the only person in the shop. Moreover, retailers sometimes live with their families above the shop. It means there’s a particular resonance if a thief says: “I know where you live.”

Hopes are pinned on the Protection of Workers law which marks its first anniversary on August 24. Under this law it is a specific offence to assault, threaten or abuse a retail worker with penalties ranging from a fine to a prison sentence.

Will it make a difference? Do police and the wider public realise what it is like to be at the centre of retail crime?

“We have been followed to our cars late at night, threatened with being stabbed and our shops burned down,” Aleem told the Herald.

“We ask for the law to protect us not least because the flashpoint for abuse and violence is often our enforcement of the laws on shoplifting and sales of alcohol and cigarettes.

“Many don’t seem to think shoplifting is a big deal but in total it is. Police Scotland figures indicate shoplifting crimes rose 12% to almost 23,000 incidents in the year to March (2022).

“You stress over the theft that you witness but the covert shop lifting may be more significant as retailers struggle to deal with soaring costs and struggle to avoid becoming one more closed shop on their street.

“Figures from the Scottish Retail Consortium indicate that one in six shops lies empty.  I know this only too well as my organisation, the Federation of Independent Retailers (The Fed) represents small shopkeepers facing huge challenges in towns and villages across Scotland. They are often the backbone of their communities and sorely missed if they disappear.

“At the height of the pandemic a couple came into my shop, picked up a few items and said they were taking them as they had no money. Maybe they were genuinely on the breadline, but I was fearful that at the very least I would be spat at. I let them leave. What goes through your head is the potential more serious cost of confrontation. You sometimes have to accept that your safety is more important than the financial loss.

“The criminals suspect the chances of being caught are small and even if they are identified and the case goes to court, months later they may receive a community service order.

“To my mind the stretched non-emergency police number 101 offers a poor service in response to shoplifting. Sometimes you just give up. I’m glad to say the police response is usually quick if we make a 999 call because of a physical threat or violence.

“I am grateful for the new law instigated by Daniel Johnson MSP, a former retailer.  I would like to hope that one day it makes a real impact on the stress, fear and financial impact of retail crime.”

Read the full article in The Herald here.

Related Articles

Related Articles

Newsagents express disappointment at latest Smiths News carriage charge increase

Members of the Federation of Independent Retailers (the Fed) have expressed disappointment after news wholesaler Smiths News advised that its carriage charge template is to rise by nearly 2 per cent from September 7. Customers were receiving letters advising of...
Read More

The Fed welcomes the resurrection of amended Crime and Policing Bill

Congratulating Sir Keir Starmer on his General Election victory last week, the Federation of Independent Retailers (the Fed) is calling for action and not just words when it comes to protecting independent retailers and their communities from soaring crime.
Read More

Independent news retailers react with anger over increased carriage charges

Members of the Federation of Independent Retailers (the Fed) in Northern Ireland are outraged by wholesaler Newspread’s decision to increase its delivery charges. Newsagents across the province say they are concerned about the future of printed news and some will...
Read More