Peter Lee, regional director of Empire Retail Management, which oversees 34 Bargain Booze stores across north-west England, said while police support officers (PCSOs) were active in several areas, shop managers still lacked confidence in reporting retail crime. 

“We’ve experienced different responses from police in different areas. Where there’s more trouble, police are more likely to attend, but there needs to be more consistency and greater visibility of officers,” he said. 

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The comments come as new figures released by the Home Office show that overall police funding increased by £1bn between 2018-19 and 2019-20, including an £815m funding boost to Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC), levied in part through increases in residents’ council tax. 

According to the ACS, which has actively sought a pledge from PCCs to escalate the issue, only one in four forces have made reference to retail crime as a priority. 

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We welcome the year-on-year increase in police funding, but the experience of retailers when it comes to reporting retail crime is still inconsistent and, in many cases, extremely frustrating.” 

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