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Retail, Shopping and Crime: Sheffield


Sheffield Case Study DocumentBased on a paper entitled Shopping and Crime in Sheffield by Dr. Lesley Mackay. For a full copy of this paper, click here. (Microsoft Word document, 287kb)



The city of Sheffield has been in economic decline for the last 25 years. This, along with the development of an out-of-town shopping centre, Meadowhall, has had an extensive impact on retail. In the city crime levels are generally low. In order to regenerate the city centre, an extensive programme of development and refurbishment has been planned and is currently underway. A new retail quarter has been planned, along with the redevelopment of the existing shopping area. Inward investment is needed for a rise in employment levels and more residents in the city centre. The case study looks at the city council, business and retail initiatives, along with regional and national agencies. The study reveals the difficulties surrounding establishing cooperative and effective partnerships within the city. Recommendations in relation to shopping and crime in Sheffield are presented.


Serious economic decline in the last decades of the twentieth century mean that the current extensive regeneration of Sheffield city centre are necessary. As the fourth largest city in the UK, Sheffield is trying to establish itself as a European city.


Interviews were conduced with 8 key individuals, along with conversations with people from both public and private sector bodies, for example city centre ambassadors and shop keepers. A day was spent with a Crime Reduction Advisor and researchers visited the CCTV control room for the city. Local events and conferences were attended, and observations or the city centre and conversations with city centre users were conducted at various times during the day. Literature reviews, reference to official websites and archive searches were also undertaken.


During the 1990s, morale was low in Sheffield and it was seen as a city in decline. Now, Sheffield has a large student population due to two universities and a large college. This has lead to economic benefits for the city, which has profited from the extra employment and the contribution to the local economy. Meadowhall, a large out-of-town shopping centre, is noted to have had a large negative impact on the city centre retail sector of Sheffield.

A central area study found that Sheffield has an advantage over many cities, with the low cost of office accommodation together with the availability of a skilled labour force. The regeneration has placed an emphasis on arts and leisure with an aim to improve the overall image of the city and support more tourist attractions. ‘Quarters’ were recommended, along with the need for increased pedestrianisation and better quality street furniture. A need for the transformation of the retail offer in the city as a whole has been recognised.

Sheffield is viewed as quite a safe city since the 1980s and 1990s. A priority of the regeneration effort has been to tackle the worst types of crime in the city. Sheffield City Council has introduced initiatives and activities to improve the maintenance, management and security of the public realm. These initiatives include the upgrading of CCTV systems; new secure car parks and more car parking security; and an increase in city centre residents to revitalise the city centre and offer a safer environment with constant surveillance. Along with this, Sheffield’s green space needed developing and making more accessible; the provision of areas for skateboarders; city ambassadors; a City Centre Management Team; the encouragement of buskers for vibrancy; the staging of events in the city centre; ‘the Responsible Retailers’ Award; and increased cultural events.

In the case study a number of Police and Home Office initiatives are outlined, including the Sheffield Street Crime Initiative; ‘Trailblazer’; ‘TOGETHER’; truancy; Police Community Support Officers; a dedicated Police retail crime team; the Vulnerable Vehicle Scheme; and Operation Induction, an initiative to help students avoid being victims of crime in the city.

Also outlined by the case study are the extensive business and retailer crime reducing initiatives, such as RadioNet and the Responsible Retailers Scheme.

Sheffield’s regeneration initiatives are evaluated. A number of surveys were conducted in the city centre while building work was being undertaken, which has resulted in a useful baseline evaluation for future measurement of Sheffield’s regeneration. A survey concerning fear of crime found that vehicle crime, robbery, youth nuisance, street drinking and begging were considered the major problems for the city centre. Footfall on the main shopping streets was measured.

When looking into the retail provision in Sheffield, the case study found that he retail offer was poor. With extreme competition from Meadowhall, the city centre showed an absence of quality retailers, and retail crime was deemed a large problem which needed to be addressed.

The design of streets needed improving and will be regenerated in time. The provision of public toilets was found to be poor. Despite this, the retailers felt that the City Centre Management Team were doing a good job and the city centre was improving.


Sheffield’s retail offer is poor and competition from Meadowhall is large. There was a lack of quality shops but a low crime rate and an increasing number of valuable attractions in the city. There was a call for the regeneration effort to extend to the surrounding residential areas of the city. Partnerships were found to be key to the regeneration and divisions had been minimised. Numerous recommendations for Sheffield are listed in the case study.


Sheffield Case Study DocumentBased on a paper entitled Shopping and Crime in Sheffield by Dr. Lesley Mackay. For a full copy of this paper, click here. (Microsoft Word document, 287kb)

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