Survey reveals shocking extent of crime in Rotherham's shops

THE shocking extent of shoplifting and abuse of retail staff in Rotherham has been revealed in research done by an MP.
Crimewave: Rotherham's shoplifting problems revealedCrimewave: Rotherham's shoplifting problems revealed
Crimewave: Rotherham's shoplifting problems revealed

Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham, was spurred into conducting two surveys after witnessing a robbery taking place at a Lidl store, and asked both customers and shop staff for their experiences during 2023.

Almost two thirds of shop customers who responded, 64 per cent, said they had seen at least one shop theft take place, but some had much more alarming experiences, claiming to have witnessed more than 50 incidents, or around one a week for the duration of the 12 months.

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One of those who answered her survey described the situation as being “off the scale”, with another responding that “Rotherham is blighted by shoplifting”.

Fifty eight per cent of those who answered, from a total of 161, said they had seen shop staff subjected to verbal or physical abuse, with some reporting up to 30 incidents over the year.

Almost two thirds of those who saw such behaviour said it made them concerned for the safety of the victims.

The favoured answer to the issue, requested by 79 per cent of those responding, was a stronger police presence and 52 per cent thought it would be wise to introduce a new criminal offence of abusing shop workers.

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Ms Champion said: “I’m devasted to have heard first hand the impacts of retail crime locally. The sheer number of incidents is off the scale, and of course regular shoppers have been hugely affected.

“It is a sad state of affairs that some residents no longer feel safe shopping in Rotherham town centre, I have listened carefully to the views of constituents and my campaign to make our shops safer has only just begun.

“I will be sharing the results with local businesses, the council, South Yorkshire Police, senior Labour colleagues and Ministers, and campaigning for a change in the law to make it a specific offence to abuse a shopworker which the survey results have demonstrated clear support for locally.”

Police numbers have increased, with the Government financing 20,000 more officers nationally, but that only takes numbers back to around pre-austerity levels.

Details of the survey on retail staff will be published next week.