Police and crime commissioners have admitted that current enforcement of retail crime is “woefully inadequate” following cuts of around £900m across the UK’s largest constabularies. 

Speaking at the NFRN’s North West dinner in Manchester, Lancashire police and crime commissioner Clive Grunshaw said the difficulties faced by police in the North West came at “huge cost to retailers”. 

“Our funding since 2010 has been cut by £72m and we need to save another £1.4m by 2020,” said Mr Grunshaw. “It’s at a huge cost to retailers. The average cost of individual theft has risen from £45 in 2008 to £325. The service is woefully inadequate and it’s not what people expect.”

Avon and Somerset police and crime commissioner Sue Mountstevens MP said: “With savings of £17m to find by 2022, the situation is unsustainable.” 

British Retail Consortium statistics show 3.6m instances of retail crime occurred last year, while 12,000 shoplifting cases were reported to Dorset Police in the last two years. 

The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners lead on local policing and partnerships Keith Hunter added: “The police workforce has reduced by nearly 19% over the last seven years. More funding is required to deliver the right level of service.”

Figures sourced by the Labour Party in the run up to the June election show police officer numbers fell from 146,411 in 2010 to 126,252 in 2016. 

The period saw £600m slashed from the Metropolitan Police budget alongside cuts to Northumbria (£123m), Avon and Somerset (£65m), and Yorkshire and Humberside (£53m) forces. 

Vip Measuria, of One Stop the Priorway in Derby, said: “We’ve had two instances this year where £800 was stolen. The police did nothing. You have to take matters into your own hands because there’s no alternative.”

NFRN chief executive Paul Baxter added: “Retail crime is an almost daily and very threatening menace which has long term impacts for shop owners and their staff.”