Nationwide retailer takes stand against retail crime

Posted by lauryn mellor | Published: 21/02/2024

The number of incidents of violence and abuse in retail environment has skyrocketed, according to national data – so one of the UK’s largest ethical retailers is encouraging its Members, customers and colleagues to write to their local MPs and advocate for legislative reform, seeking to criminalise assaults on shopworkers.

Central Co-op, a leading advocate for community well-being and safety, has released a compelling white paper addressing the alarming rise of retail crime in across its trading estate. The report outlines the stark realities faced by shopworkers and retailers, calling for urgent legislative reform to protect frontline workers and communities.

Central Co-op saw a 59 per cent increase in retail crime in 2023, prompting the Society to write 34 letters to MPs and host 10 Member of Parliament (MP) and Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) visits at stores that had undergone an assault, including in Derby, Norwich, Peterborough, Nottingham, Leicester, Chesterfield and Birmingham.

The paper comes after the British Retail Consortium (BRC) released its 2024 report, which highlight that incidents of violence and abuse in retail environments had increased to over 1,300 per day, and theft more than doubled to 16.7 million.

The white paper highlights key statistics and insights, including the Co-operative Group’s latest 10-point plan to tackle retail crime and findings from the 2024 British Retail Consortium (BRC) report, which revealed a significant increase in incidents of violence, abuse and theft. Despite these alarming trends, only a fraction of reported incidents result in prosecution, indicating a pressing need for effective intervention.

One of the central proposals outlined in the white paper is a crucial amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill, which seeks to criminalise assaults on shopworkers. By enacting this measure, Parliament can send a clear message that violence and organised crime within retail environments will not be tolerated.

Central Co-op urges MPs to support this vital amendment and calls on PCC candidates to pledge their commitment to tackling retail crime. The white paper highlights the importance of collective action in creating safer and more resilient retail environments for all.

Sarah Dickins, Chief People Officer at Central Co-op, adds: “The safety and wellbeing of our colleagues will always be paramount to us. No one should have to fear threats, violence or abuse, and the fact this is increasing across the retail industry in our society is unacceptable. We continue to invest in measures to keep our colleagues safe, whilst offering the best in-store experience we can for our Members and customers. We’re working with law enforcement as well as local MPs to campaign for change together by amending the Criminal Justice Bill and hope that together, as an industry, we can make this meaningful difference to all retail workers.”

Anyone can contribute to the ongoing efforts to combat retail crime and ensure the safety of frontline workers and communities by raising awareness and mobilising support. For those wishing to support Central Co-op and other retailers in their campaign to change legislation, individuals can engage with their MPs using letter templates and details available at:

For more information on the state of retail crime in 2024, what Central Co-op is doing in its community stores and about the Criminal Justice Bill reform, the Central Co-op retail crime report is available to download at or by scanning the QR code. 


For press information

Press Office

Lauryn Mellor, PR and Media Specialist at Central Co-op
07385 048004