WINNIPEG -- In the lead-up to a roundtable in Winnipeg aimed at tackling rising rates of brazen and sometimes violent retail crime, the Retail Council of Canada has shared a letter it wrote to Manitoba’s justice minister.

John Graham, a Winnipeg-based director of government relations for the Retail Council of Canada, said several businesses and organizations will be part of the discussion on Jan.31.

He said it’s a diverse group coming together from all different perspectives.

“It’s really a reflection of every retailer, be it Liquor Marts -- or truly every retailer, facing more brazen crime and the concerns that they have dealing with it: the safety issues and the cost and risks to the business,” he explained.

Graham said retailers have made five recommendations to the provincial government -- including asking for clarity on the Federal Digital Privacy Act.

“One of the opportunities in Manitoba that we see in other jurisdictions is better information-sharing and collaboration around very specific, known or organized retail theft,” said Graham. “Certainly there’s many discussions that take place amongst law enforcement, justice, retailers and other businesses. The barrier really is around the Digital Privacy Act, privacy of sharing information and building cases of suspected individuals and seeking clarity around that.”

In a Jan. 10 letter addressed to Justice Minister Cliff Cullen, the retail council points to secure software called RetailCOP, a tool it said is being used in Edmonton that allows for information sharing about retail theft within the loss prevention and law enforcement community.

“That is one of the tactics that we believe is going to be really helpful to really targeting a set group of people that are the highly prolific offenders, the ones that are truly organized and are every day more violent, increasingly brazen,” said Graham. “And really a targeted strategy I think will go a long way to reducing issues in this province.”

The retail council also wants to discuss empowering loss prevention officers, enhancing relationships with the Crown, specialized organized retail crime resources and retailer training and education.

Read the full letter to the justice minister: