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    Police ‘not interested’ in tackling shoplifting, says M&S chairman

    The police are “not interested” in dealing with shoplifting, chairman of Marks & Spencer has claimed after figures showed the majority of store thefts in some crime hotspots were going unsolved.

    Archie Norman said retailers were being forced to spend “a lot of money” on trying to keep crime rates down, including installing new camera systems and store detectives, The Telegraph reported.

    Speaking on LBC’s Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Norman said, “We get very little help from the police. I think we have to accept that the police are not interested in this sort of crime anymore. Whether we like it or not, that’s the way it has gone.”

    Figures published last week suggested that just 3 per cent of shoplifting offences were being solved by police in some parts of the UK.

    The first nationwide analysis of store thefts by area revealed that locations including Soho in London, Cardiff and Leeds were struggling with high crime rates. King Edward’s Parade in the centre of Eastbourne had the fewest thefts solved, with 97 per cent of cases having no outcome.

    Norman noted there had been a surge in thefts since the pandemic, while the cost-of-living crisis had also fuelled other criminal activity.

    He added, “When people are hard up, or particularly when there’s a growth in other forms of crime, particularly drugs-related crime, then one way of financing it is to go and steal from shops… it’s understandable given what we’ve been through in the last couple of years, we’ve seen more of that.”

    Official figures show police logged 430,104 shoplifting offences last year, a rise of 37 per cent on the prior year and the highest level on record. On a nationwide level, the proportion of cases solved fell to 10.5 per cent from 15 per cent a year earlier as compared to 2016 when almost 28 per cent of shoplifting cases were solved.

    Some retailers have resorted to giving shop floor workers body cameras in an attempt to deter criminals, while others have installed technology to monitor what customers are putting in their bags at self-service checkouts.

    Recent research from industry body the British Retail Consortium (BRC) found that incidents of violence or abuse of shop workers had risen to 1,300 a day last year from 870, compared with a year earlier. The Government announced a crackdown on the epidemic within stores last month, which included making it an offence to assault a retail worker.

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