Waitrose offers police officers and PCSOs free hot drinks and discounted food in bid to combat crime

LONDON,ENGLAND - June 2023: Waitrose store sign External Store Sign London, England. (Photo by Peter Dazeley/Getty Images)
Waitrose is offering free hot drinks to police officers in a bid to deter thieves. (Getty) (Peter Dazeley via Getty Images)

Waitrose and John Lewis are offering free hot drinks to police officers in a bid to tackle crime.

The incentive, dubbed 'Thanks a Latte', will see police officers and community support officers offered perks which also include discounted food and a place to take breaks.

The move comes as retailers across the country have seen a surge in crime, with the British Retail Consortium, which represents retailers across the UK, finding that the number of reported thefts jumped by 26% last year - costing retailers some £1bn in losses.

Recently Co-op Food boss Matt Hood said stores had seen a surge in crime, with the chain saying that cases of crime, shoplifting and anti-social behaviour were up 35%, yet police were not responding to more than 70% of call-outs to stores over theft.

Read more: Shop owner: 'I'm losing £1,500 each month due to shoplifting - and brazen teens are to blame'

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Police officers and community support officers will be able to get free coffees in Waitrose and John Lewis. (Stock image: Getty) (andrewmedina via Getty Images)

The John Lewis Partnership, which owns John Lewis and Waitrose, said offering free drinks and discounts to police officers would help deter thieves and build relationships with local forces.

It said businesses are spending around £700m a year trying to fight crime - money that could be better spent on lowering prices for customers.

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Nicki Juniper, Head of Security for the John Lewis Partnership, said: "We’ve already got great relationships with some local police forces, but want to see this reflected across all our stores.

"Offering these perks is a win-win; the police already work incredibly hard, so will have more options to take a break, while also building even better relationships with our frontline teams.

"Likewise, even just having a police car parked outside can make people think twice about shoplifting from our branches, or becoming aggressive towards our partners."

Edinburgh, UK, 18th November, 2021: Dame Sharon White, chairman of John Lewis Partnership, on a panel at the SCDI Forum. Pic: Terry Murden / Alamy
Dame Sharon White, chairman of John Lewis Partnership, has called for tougher enforcement to protect retail workers. (Alamy) (Terry Murden)

Dame Sharon White, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, has written to the Home Secretary and Justice Secretary calling for tougher enforcement against repeat and violent offenders to protect retail workers, as well as offering to work with officials to help help shape future legislation.

The John Lewis Partnership said as well as calling for legislative change, it has rolled out a range of measures to help tackle retail crime across its shops, including training, a trial of increased security signage, improved CCTV and a rollout of body-worn cameras across its estate, as well as increasing the number of guards and security trained partners.

But it said while many of the efforts had been effective in stopping individual shoplifters, retailers need wider support to tackle the growing issue of groups and organised crime.

Juniper added: "Retail crime is a national problem and requires a national solution - people need to wake up and smell the coffee.

"UK retailers already invest over £700m a year to prevent it but, in instances where this isn’t enough, we simply need greater support.

"Everyone has a role to play, from the police to the judiciary system and the government. By working together, we can tackle the surge and help retail workers and customers safe."