Councillors in Royston have co-signed a letter to Home Secretary Suella Braverman calling for action on retail crime.

Labour and Co-operative district councillors for Royston Palace, Chris Hinchliff and Cathy Brownjohn, described shops as the "beating heart of Royston town centre", but argued that not enough has been done to protect retail staff from abuse.

The letter is being coordinated by the Co-operative Party, in response to what is being described as 'an epidemic of criminality' and 'a scourge on our high streets'.

Cllr Hinchliff said: "The shops on our high street are the beating heart of Royston town centre but with evidence showing that the police have not responded to 71 per cent of serious retail crimes reported, it is clear that we need more action from the government to support shops and their staff.

"Shopworkers deserve to be treated with respect and should be able to go to work free from fear."

According to the British Retail Consortium's annual crime survey, across the UK there are more than 850 incidents of violence and abuse against people working in retail per day - almost twice the pre-pandemic figure.

In a 2022 survey, Usdaw - the trade union which represents many retail staff - found that nearly 75 per cent of their members had been verbally abused and roughly half had been threatened with violence.

Research also showed more than 6,000 shoplifting crimes in charity shops between August 2020 and July 2023. 

Cllr Brownjohn added: "We all want to have a safe community and preventing crime on our high streets is an essential part of that.

"Chris and I are passionate about standing up for Royston and using our position as elected councillors to speak up for the town.

"That’s why we have signed this letter and we hope that the Home Secretary will listen closely to the concerns that are being raised by this campaign."

The letter to the Home Secretary can be found at

In his speech at the state opening of Parliament, King Charles said the government will "act to keep communities safe from crime and anti-social behaviour", after the Federation of Independent Businesses vowed to pressure the government to improve security in small shops.

Conservative Cllr Fiona Hill, who represents Royston East and Ermine at Hertfordshire County Council, said: "It is vital that we ensure retailers and their staff feel totally safe in their working environment.

"Hertfordshire police works hard to ensure retailers pass on information in a timely manner to Police and other retailers.

"I am pleased to see that the King’s Speech includes criminal justice measures that will crackdown on prolific offenders including shoplifters."

In Royston, councillors meet with the Royston Safer Neighbourhood Team regularly to agree local policing priorities, following feedback from the community.


Priorities set for Royston in the coming months are speeding through rural and urban areas, inconsiderate parking and driving near schools and continued youth engagement to maintain low youth-related antisocial behaviour and prevent future antisocial behaviour.

Liberal Democrat councillor Ruth Brown said: "While we are concerned about the national growth of retail crime and support calls for the government to address this issue, crime is much lower in Royston than in many other places.

"We meet regularly with Royston Safer Neighbourhood Team, to set policing priorities for Royston and surrounding areas, which reflect what local residents want."