The number of shoplifting incidents in the UK is at its highest level for 13 years, according to annual figures released by the Office for National Statistics.

There were more than 9,000 additional occurrences of shop theft in the year ending September 2015 when compared with the previous year.

The ACS said that while most offences recorded by the National Crime Recording Standard have been in steady decline since its introduction in 2003, shop theft has slowly risen over recent years.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Shop theft is a serious crime, which for some retailers can be extremely damaging to the profitability of their business. These Government figures are disappointing and must not be ignored.

“Government must be clear that shop theft is a serious offence. Police and crime commissioners and police forces must prioritise shop theft. The courts must impose meaningful sentences to deter and punish shop theft, and retailers must report shop theft.“

The 2015 ACS Crime Survey found that shop theft cost the convenience sector alone in excess of £35m between 2014-15, despite millions being spent on investment in crime prevention measures over the same time period.