The high cost of living in a secure environment

06 April, 2007

Q How much do off-licences spend on security measures? Is it worth it and what else could we do with the money?

A It's pretty near impossible to isolate how much drinks retailers are spending, but the overall figure for UK retailers is £700 million, according to British Retail Consortium director general Kevin Hawkins. That's more than four times the annual turnover of Majestic.

Some security measures, such as CCTV systems, are more affordable than was once the case, but to fully kit out an off-licence is still an expensive business.

Some small retailers are now

employing security guards at peak times. Ace Security in Portsmouth will give you an hour's free trial if you ask nicely. There is some concern that, despite all the measures being taken by retailers, the police and criminal justice system don't always seem to match up. The BRC is particularly annoyed that shoplifting is more and more regarded as a soft crime.

"Retailers are very concerned that fixed penalty notices for shoplifting are being applied much more widely than originally intended, further downgrading the seriousness of retail crime," says Hawkins. "The effectiveness of non-custodial sentences should be improved. But, for the most serious repeat offenders, there must still be the option of significant jail terms."




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Richard Hemming MW: beware inverse snobbery

Few things can bring communal pleasure so intimately as wine. Apart from a hot tub, perhaps. Sport can trigger mass jubilation, film gives us shared empathy, but wine has a nigh-unique ability to bestow conviviality among us through a shared bottle – which makes it especially galling that we spend so much time divided over it.

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