HC 1456 Home Affairs CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd

You may have seen reports in the media of our decision not to pursue claims under the Riot Damages Act in relation to the civil disturbances in August but I wanted to let you know personally because of your role as Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee.

We could have submitted claims totalling up to £l million but decided it would be wrong to place additional financial and administrative burdens on police resources that are already under pressure. We think it is far better to allow police forces to focus on claims made by small businesses.

We are supportive of the police service and have a number of partnership arrangements in place with them around the country, for example we have 34 police bases within our stores, and our Employer Supported Police pilot encourages our colleagues to become Special Constables and gives them time off to patrol and protect their local communities. This is part of our commitment to the communities in which we operate.

We have also announced the extension of our Community Grants Fund by an additional £100,000. This money will be given to Sainsbury's stores in the areas affected by the riots so that our store managers can help rebuild their communities.

Part of the reason for us not pursuing claims under the RDA is that we did not want to see resources diverted from front-line policing. As you will know, shoplifting and antisocial behaviour are not victimless crimes, nor are they trivial, although it seems to us that they are often viewed that way. In addition across the retail sector we have seen an increase in violence directed at shop workers, some of which goes unreported as the victims do not think it worthwhile reporting the attacks as retail crime is perceived to be near the bottom of police priorities.

We are appreciative of the support that police officers gave to our stores and to our customers and colleagues during the recent disturbances, and of the way that crimes are being dealt with seriously and swiftly by the justice system at all levels. This has demonstrated, amongst other things, that retail crime deserves to be taken seriously more generally not just in the context of looting and rioting.

14 October 2011

Prepared 22nd December 2011