An overhaul of the policing system is needed to help authorities tackle retail crime that cost convenience retailers £122m last year, a leading MP has warned.

Shadow police minister Jack Dromey said police forces are “struggling to do ever more with ever less” to tackle retail crime, as forces have lost 18,000 officers and 5,000 police community support officers over the past year.

“There’s a major structural problem in how the police works. There’s not been sufficient focus on retail crime in the way it should be,” said Mr Dromey.

“We need to get the Home Office and police chief’s council into a dialogue around taking the issue of retail crime more seriously.”

Aberconwy MP Guto Bebb, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on retail crime, said it was “imperative” that retailers lobby police and crime commissioners (PCCS) and minsters on retail crime to push the issue up the political agenda.

“We have seen some police forces downgrade their priority given to retail crime, and some comments PCCs have made on this issue in the past that have simply not been acceptable,” he said.

Mr Dromey added that after studying the manifestos of PCCs facing re-election from different political parties, he felt that “retail crime is not necessarily high on their agenda”.

Karen Bradley MP, co-chair of the National Retail Crime Steering Group, said the government will work with retail trade bodies to develop its modern crime prevention strategy being published in the spring, which will include measures to tackle “the growing threat of serious organised crime” to independent stores.

Their comments came during last week’s ACS 2016 Crime Report, which revealed retail crime against convenience stores cost the sector £122m last year, or £2,730 per store.

Of this, £43m came from shop theft, while staff theft also cost retailers £19m. Store owners surveyed also reported 1,836 shop incidents where a weapon was used, 55% of which involved a real or imitation firearm.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “These figures should end once and for all the notion that shop theft is a victimless crime.”

Retail crime survey

More on retail crime

Explore all our articles on crime prevention, shop security, shoplifting, scams and more:

Retail crime