Retailers call for government aid as reports of shoplifting soar by 24%

The regions with the largest increase in shoplifting offences in the past year were Avon and Somerset (46%), Sussex (42%) and Humberside (38%)

CCTV footage shoplifting retail crime theft

The average store is reporting nearly a quarter more shoplifting incidents than this time last year, sparking calls for the government to pay for security investments in local shops. 

The newly released Office of National Statistics (ONS) crime survey shows a 24% increase in shoplifting offences logged by police forces in England and Wales. 

The figures represent the second year in a row of above-20% year-on-year increases in shoplifting, which plummeted during the pandemic. 

According to the data, the regions with the largest increase in shoplifting offences in the past year were Avon and Somerset (46%), Sussex (42%) Humberside (38%) and Cambridgeshire (37%). 

No region recorded a fall in shoplifting, but the smallest increases were in the City of London (2%), Bedfordshire (3%) and Derbyshire (8%). 

Fed national president Muntazir Dipoti said the figures backed the trade group’s call for stores to be given government grant funding to purchase and instal security equipment such as CCTV. “Shop theft is not victimless. It blights the lives of independent retailers on a daily basis and has significant implications for a store’s viability,” he said 

He added that the real figures were probably even higher, due to low confidence in the police leading to incidents going unreported. 

He explained: “Retailers are disillusioned by the lack of police action when crimes are committed, so they do not report them. It is, therefore, possible that the number of cases of shop theft over this period could be even higher.” 

Dipoti’s hypothesis of under-reporting is supported by data from one of the regions where the police have made it easier and more rewarding for stores to report all shoplifting. 

Sussex police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne introduced new reporting systems, dedicated officers and a campaign to win back retailer trust. 

The region saw a 42% increase in crime reporting in the latest figures. 

The Fed’s decision to push the government for grants to improve their security systems was taken at its Annual Conference in June. 

Delegates spoke of the need for good-quality CCTV images for police to gain prosecution, but added that the cost of these systems prevented many from making the necessary upgrades. 

East Lothian retailer and former Scotland district president Ferhan Ashiq, who campaigned for the Fed to lobby government over the issue, told the conference the cost-of-living crisis had led to thefts from stores “at levels never seen before”. 

Shopworkers union USDAW also expressed concern over the latest ONS figures, highlighting that one in three assaults in store related to shoplifting incidents that escalate, according to a survey of its members. 

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