- Simon Roberts backed our campaign for the police to get tough with shoplifters
- Abuse or violence towards retail staff should be a specific offence
- Roberts: Increase in violence and verbal abuse against Sainsbury’s staff
The boss of Sainsbury’s has spoken out for the first time about the epidemic of retail crime sweeping Britain.
Simon Roberts, 51, chief executive of the UK’s second-biggest supermarket chain, has backed The Mail on Sunday’s campaign for the police to get tough with shoplifters.
He also supports the demand for a change in the law to make abuse or violence towards retail staff a specific offence.
Roberts said that, in common with other large retailers, there has been an increase in violence and verbal abuse against staff.
He added: ‘I see a report every day on the number of violent incidents and assaults on our people in our petrol stations, our convenience stores and in our shops. It definitely escalated through last year.’ Roberts said he has been working with the Government and his fellow store bosses to clamp down on the problem.
Speaking out: Simon Roberts has backed our campaign for the police to get tough with shoplifters
‘Any situation where a human being feels threatened or not safe – we need to put the strength of the law behind that,’ he said.
‘We have a responsibility and the government and police do as well.’ He said that Sainsbury’s was the first retailer to invest in body-worn cameras, which are offered to all of the company’s 150,000 staff.
When activated, the cameras send a signal to a support team, who will be able to watch the footage live. If necessary, they can ring the police and ask for officers to be sent to the store.
‘We wanted to lead the industry. There were all kinds of issues around data protection but in the end you just have to take a position.’
Retail crime has hit all of the major chains.
The Mail on Sunday has led the way on exposing the scandal of abuse against store workers and shoplifting, revealing it has been costing £1bn a year, which ultimately comes out of customers’ pockets.
Roberts added: ‘The key point is that this should not be in any way just be overlooked. This is a crime. Stealing is a crime.’