Retail crime blighting Britain’s high streets – as Ministers’ u-turn and extra measures not going far enough 


  • Communities and high streets are being blighted by staggering increases in shoplifting with cases up by 1/3
  • After decade long campaign, Ministers u-turn on introducing a new law to tackle shopworker abuse with package of measures that are a ‘pale imitation’ of Labour’s offer on policing
  • Tory ‘Shoplifter’s Charter’ downgraded shoplifting, with stolen goods worth under £200 going uninvestigated
  • Decimation of neighbourhood policing has left communities exposed to rising crime, with 10,000 fewer officers and PCSOs on the streets since 2015;


Campaigners today launched a campaign calling on the UK Government to back stronger action on retail crime, which is blighting Britain’s town centres and high streets.

Jack Abbott, Labour and Co-operative parliamentary candidate for Ipswich, said:

“Retail crime has been a rising at a shocking rate across the UK, with a recent report from the Co-op Group highlighting that shoplifting and anti-social behaviour have jumped 35% year-on-year, with more than 175,000 incidents recorded in the first six months of 2023 – almost 1,000 incidents every day. At the same time, shopworkers are facing unacceptable levels of violence and abuse.

“After a decade-long campaign from both the Labour and Co-operative Parties, the Government have finally u-turned and will now make abusing a shopworker a stand alone offence. But whilst Ministers have resisted this move at every point, our town centres have been less safe and shopworkers are going to work in fear.

“With 10,000 fewer neighbourhood police and PCOS on our streets since 2015, an increasing number of reported retail crimes are going unattended, leaving our town centres and high streets exposed and our communities paying the price.”

Labour’s Commitments on Retail Crime 

In government, Labour would introduce a ‘Community Policing Guarantee’, putting 13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs back on the streets in our communities. Labour has also vowed to tackle retail crime by reversing the Conservatives’ decision to downgrade the response to shoplifting under £200, making it easier to take action against  repeat offenders following record high levels of shoplifting over the past year, and ending the farce of offending impunity.

Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, said:

“Under the Tories too many communities and high streets are being blighted by staggering increases in shoplifting, up 30 per cent in the last year alone.

“The Conservative government has decimated neighbourhood policing, leaving our town centres unprotected, and introduced a rule meaning that shoplifting of goods under £200 doesn’t need to be investigated. This Tory ‘Shoplifter’s Charter’ has left local businesses and retail workers at the mercy of criminals.

“Labour takes the safety of our High Streets seriously. We will scrap the £200 rule and roll out a new Community Police Guarantee, with more town centre police patrols and 13,000 more neighbourhood police and PCSOs.”

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