According to new figures, Shoplifting in supermarkets in both Wales and England rose by more than seven percent between the period of 2014 and 2017.
According to the Press Association (PA), police authorities in England and Wales investigated a combined 78,110 shoplifting incidents in 2017, an increase from 72,423 in 2014.
The crime and security adviser of the British Retail Consortium, James Martin, said that “the costs are borne by everyday shoppers and those who rely on retail for their livelihoods.”
Martin noted that these figures indicate that, despite the best efforts of our members, criminals are increasingly targeting supermarkets.
He acknowledged the “difficult resourcing and prioritisation decision” police forces face, however, he said that “it is clearly time that every police force gives retail crime the strategic priority it deserves.”
The national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, John Apter, said that shoplifting crimes can take away the focus of the police from more urgent tasks at a time when government cutbacks have reduced its resources.
He stated: “The reality is that officers can be tied up, sometimes for hours dealing with shoplifters, preventing them from answering other 999 calls which may be more urgent. It’s all about priorities.”
He continued: “Ten years of the Government’s austerity policies, which have seen officer numbers cut by nearly 22,000, have resulted in policing in England and Wales becoming an almost entirely reactive service.”
Apter noted: “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 PA’s report is based on data compiled from all police forces in England and Wales except 18, which either declined to release information, provided partial data, or did not respond to requests for figures.
Opposing the findings of the PA, the 2018 Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) of the Office for National Statistics reported a decline in shoplifting of one percent between the period of October 2017 and September 2018.
Similar to the PA, the CSEW collected police information on shoplifting for its report.
In order to address the underreporting, the Commercial Victimisation Survey (CVS) collects both the police recorded crime and unreported incidents.
The survey gathers the data on crimes that were experienced by businesses. It discovered no statistically significant increase in shoplifting offences in both the wholesale and retail sector between the period of 2014 and 2017.
The CVS did find that the cost of shoplifting has risen with the average cost per incident almost doubling since 2012 to £60.
The CVS said that accounting for two-thirds of all crime reported by Wholesale and retail premises, shoplifting continued to be the most common crime that is perpetuated against supermarkets.