Rachel Blake Labour and Co-operative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Cities of London and Westminster 13th October 2023 Blog Communities, Housing & Local Government Economy Public Services Share Tweet Photo by Jay Wennington on Unsplash In Cities of London & Westminster, we’re proud to be home to one of the world’s most iconic shopping destinations. Places like Oxford Street, Regent Street and Carnaby Street have become go-to places for many people when visiting London. However, for too many of our shopworkers working in our constituency’s retail stores, they’re now facing a daily routine of threats, abuse and sometimes even violence directed towards them. It was hard to miss the terrifying reports over the summer about looting in some of Oxford Street most famous shops. Organised over social media, thousands of people descended onto the bustling high street. But ultimately, it was the shopworkers working in those stores who felt the brunt of the event. But this incident was not a standalone event. Criminal gangs with a ‘freedom to loot’ have been driving spiraling levels of retail crime right across the UK. In the first six months of the year, the Co-op Group recorded its highest ever level of retail crime, shoplifting and anti-social behaviour with almost 1,000 incidents taking place every day. From this, it’s clear our shopworkers deserve action from those currently in power. Despite whatever claims the Government may like to make on crime, those words don’t clearly match with the reality currently we face on the ground. Cuts to our police service over the past 13 years by the Tories has resulted in 10,000 fewer PCSOs on the beat on our streets. So this crisis is little surprise, with the Co-op Group even going as far saying that the increase in retail crime is currently ‘out of control’. But it doesn’t end there. The Co-op also reports that even when it detains someone suspected of committing a crime, 80% of the time it has to let them go again because the police are stretched too thinly to come and make the arrest. No one should face violence at work – but for many, it’s simply become just part of the job. It’s time that the Government did everything in its power to stop this from happening in the first place and bring those responsible to justice. Only then can we make threats, violence and abuse towards our shopworkers a thing of the past.