With street violence breaking out again last night and spreading north to Manchester, the British Retail Consortium is seeking urgent reassurance from the government that a range of critical issues will be addressed.
Retailers are calling for intelligence-led information to help them protect their properties and want to know that those responsible for vandalism and theft will be suitably punished. The BRC plans to make its case directly to Home Secretary Theresa May.
It says it wants assurances that the police and fire services are adequately resourced and will use robust tactics to close down situations quickly, and that there will be effective prosecutions. It also wants immediate support to help shopkeepers protect their properties and clear up after attacks.
The BRC is also calling for early discussions on how affected communities can be helped to recover, and wants guarantees that affordable insurance will remain available. It also wants banks to ensure short to medium-term credit arrangements to enable retailers to refit and re-open.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson, said: “As well as the immediate bills caused by damage and theft, there will be longer-term costs. Inevitably some businesses which have been attacked will never open their doors again.”
He added that retailers and their staff were “particularly vulnerable and need protecting” and that they were being intimidated and traumatised.
Clear evidence of that has come from the Retail Trust charity, which says it has seen a big rise in calls to its helpline from shop owners and staff trying to cope with the emotional fallout of the lawlessness.
According to CEO Nigel J L Rothband: “We’ve had calls from people who’ve been directly affected, from families worried about their security of their relatives, and from individuals worried about the spread of the riots to the parts of town in which they work, their personal security, their jobs and what might happen next.”
While a huge police presence prevented further serious trouble in the capital last night Salford and Manchester became key targets, with the Arndale Centre being overrun by gangs. The centre of Birmingham also suffered a second night of looting.