Shoplifting incidents reported to police have seen a 24 per cent increase in the 12 months to March, official data released on Thursday shown, continuing a trend of persistent quarterly increases after a dramatic decrease during the pandemic.
As per the police recorded crime statistics for England and Wales, the number of recorded shoplifting offences between April 2022 and March 2023 stood at 342,343- nearly 940 incidents a day on average.
Last month, shoplifting crimes recorded by the police in Scotland has also shown an increase of 25 per cent in 2022-23.
Retail trade union Usdaw has expressed ‘deep concern’ over the figures. The union noted that while the number of reported incidents haven’t returned to pre-pandemic levels yet, they are well on the way after the 23 per cent increase in the last year.
“This 24 per cent increase in shoplifting is very concerning for our members in retail,” Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary, said.
“Shoplifting is not a victimless crime, theft from shops has long been a major flashpoint for violence and abuse against shopworkers. Having to deal with repeated and persistent shoplifters can cause issues beyond the theft itself like anxiety, fear and in some cases physical harm to retail workers.”
Usdaw’s latest annual survey of over 7,500 shop workers found that 31 per cent of incidents of violence, threats and abuse are related to shoplifting, which is not only higher than in 2019 but also more than double the 2016 level.
“Our annual survey found that three-quarters of retail workers suffered abuse from customers, with far too many experiencing threats and violence. Theft from shops was the trigger for nearly a third of these incidents last year. Particularly concerning is that just over half of those who did the survey said they were not confident that reporting these issues will make any difference,” Lillis added.
“Faced with such appallingly high levels of violence and abuse much more needs to be done. There must be better coordination to ensure that government, retail employers, police and the courts work together to help protect shop workers, giving them the respect they deserve.”