Retail shop theft has increased by 5% across England and Wales, according to new data released by the government.

The Association for Convenience stores (ACS) has called on the police and justice system for tougher penalties after similar figures were also released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

The BRC completed a retail crime sample survey, recording 698,184 offences against retailers resulting in loss or damage to property. In 2013 to 2014, the average value of customer theft per incident reached £241, compared to £177 in the previous year, a 36% increase and the highest in a decade.

James Lowman, ACS chief executive, said: “The figures released today highlight the battle that retailers face in attempting to prevent shop theft in their stores. 

“We believe that the current system of out of court disposals is not working, especially for repeat offenders who are not getting the help they need to break the cycle of offending.”

Helen Dickinson, director general at the BRC, said: “We would like police and crime commissioners around the country to work with retailers more closely and consider whether they could develop a dedicated strategy to tackle business crime in their area.”