The number of shoplifting crimes recorded by police in England and Wales rose sharply over the past year. 

A report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed incidents rose 10% to 383,178 instances in the 12 months to September 2017. This marks the second consecutive year of increases.

Violent offences such as knife crime and robbery also increased over the same period, up 21% and 29% respectively. Around 5.3 million crimes were recorded in the 12-month period ending September 2017, up 14% on 2016.

Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) chief executive James Lowman said: “The increase in shop theft reported by the ONS is extremely concerning for convenience retailers, but will not come as a surprise. Most retailers in the sector will have experienced some form of shop theft over the last year, with many dealing with persistent repeat offenders that aren’t being dealt with properly by the justice system. 

“The figures released today also only refer to reported instances, and with police forces increasingly looking to redirect resources to other crimes, retailers could be dissuaded from reporting thefts committed against their business. We encourage all retailers that have been affected by theft to report those incidents, and will continue to encourage police forces to ensure that theft is taken seriously at a local level.”

The ONS report also showed the number of crimes involving a knife or sharp instrument most often occured in large cities, in particular London, which saw the largest increase (38%).

ONS statistician and crime analyst Mark Bangs said: “These latest figures indicate that levels of crime have continued to fall compared with the previous year, but this picture varied across different types of crime and not all offence types showed falls.

“While overall levels of violent crime were not increasing, there is evidence of rises having occurred in some of the low incidence but more harmful categories such as knife and gun crime”.

NFRN national president Linda Sood added: “This new crime report makes grim reading. What is even worse is that these increases come at a time when high-ranking police personnel have openly stated that they will not investigate instances of shoplifting, criminal damages, thefts and other offences they consider ‘minor crimes’.”

The ACS will be launching its 2018 Crime Report and Guidance at the Crime Seminar on March 20.