“The number of reported thefts pale in comparison to the reality” retailers have warned after more than 78,000 incidents were recorded. Any increase of more than 7% has been recorded in the past four years.
Officers were called to investigate more than 78,000 shoplifting incidents in 2017 according to 25 forces in England and Wales who released statistics. The previous year had 74,662 incidents of shoplifting reported, 74,124 were reported in 2015 and 72,423 in 2014.
A crime and security adviser with the British Retail Consortium, James Martin has said that the costs of shoplifting ultimately fall on the shoulders of shoppers and shop owners. “We acknowledge the difficult resourcing and prioritisation decisions which police forces face, but it is clearly time that every police force gives retail crime the strategic priority it deserves.”
The PFEW, Police Federation of England and Wales said cuts to the forces meant there is simply not enough officers to deal with the workload.
“The sad fact is that as forces struggle to meet 999-call demand, incidents such as these are increasingly likely not to be attended by officers at all which, as a serving police constable with 26 years’ service, I find quite shocking.” the PFEW’s national chairman, John Apter included.
Retails have expressed concerns previously that police often do not investigate the thefts of items worth less than £200 as £200 become the threshold in 2014 with the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act in England and Wales. The act allows anyone stealing good costing less than £200 to plead guilty by post or face magistrates’ court. They may then face a fine or up to a year in prison.
The latest shoplifting figures do not reveal the full extent of this kind of crime in the Uk as 18 police forces either provided only partial data, did not respond to requests for data or withheld data.
James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores said “The numbers of reported thefts pale in comparison to the reality of retail crime. In total, we estimated over 950,000 incidents of theft in convenience stores last year.”
Lowman also added that over half of the thefts were not reported in the convenience sector due to an expectation that police will not investigate or prosecute thieves. “Challenging offenders in store often leads to violent incidents which have a huge personal impact on retailers and shop workers, only government action can break the cycle of more theft, violence, inadequate police response and ineffective sanctions,” he stated.