Regions of England and Wales already heavily affected by shoplifting are still experiencing surges in reported offences, despite an overall 1% decline in incidents across the two nations.

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures for the year ending September 2018 revealed 378,656 shoplifting instances. Cleveland, in north-east England, suffered the highest crime rate per 1,000 residents with a 16% rise from 13.1 to 15.3 instances. The area has held the top spot for the past three years.  

The next four worst areas for shoplifting were Humberside, with 11.1 crimes per 1,000 (16% increase); the north east, with 10.3 crimes (5% increase); Northumbria, with 9.7 crimes (2% decline); and Nottinghamshire, with 9.5 crimes (17% increase). 

Typically, areas in the north experienced the highest levels of shoplifting and the largest rises, while areas in the south experienced year-on-year drops in offences and also had the lowest offences per 1,000 residents. Shoplifting across Sussex, Norfolk, Devon and Cornwall, and Surrey dropped by 7% on average. 

The reported crime stats also show a gulf between what is reported and what takes place. The reported offences in the latest release account for just 7.43% of the shoplifting incidents retailers experience, based on the Home Office’s 2017 Commercial Victimisation Survey.

NFRN national president Mike Mitchelson told RN: “The regional increases show shoplifting is still a serious issue in locations where policing efforts have been stripped back. 

“The issue can only be tackled if retailers report any instances of shoplifting to the police,”
he added. 

ACS CEO James Lowman warned: “A fall in the number of recorded incidents could be as a result of retailers not reporting crimes in frustration at the lack of response from police, not necessarily as a result of the number of offences falling.”

More on retail crime: Find out how the NFRN think the government must make shop security a priority