Police struggle to crack down on shoplifting as police numbers plummet, says Police Federation

20 January 2015

Concerns from the British Retail Consortium that police regard shoplifting as a “victimless crime”, which is not to be taken seriously is untrue, according to the Police Federation.

Paul Ford, secretary of Police Federation National Detective Forum, said: ‘Nothing could be further from the truth.  It is important to recognise that retailers experience crime every day and ultimately this affects us all in society. Shoplifting is frequently committed by organised gangs and those who have problems with drug dependency.

‘However, the fact is that the police service is under tremendous pressure due to the last four years of government cuts and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary has recognised that forces will have to prioritise some crimes over others - officers face having to make very difficult decisions in future as a result.

‘We have lost nearly 16,000 officers from forces in England and Wales – the equivalent of losing all the police forces in the south west of England – Devon and Cornwall, Avon and Somerset, Wiltshire, Dorset, Gloucestershire – as well as Thames Valley and Wiltshire Police forces. This, coupled with equal numbers of police staff job losses and the closure of hundreds of police stations, is affecting all aspects of the police service’s ability to protect communities and to respond to calls for help.’

Shoplifting cost UK retailers £603 million in the 2013-2014 financial year, with the average incident costing £241, a 36 per cent increase, according to the British Retail Consortium in a report published today.

Small business owners and large retailers alike are urged to report shoplifting incidents to police.

Mr Ford said: ‘The vast majority of police officers are serving because we are here to help.  We cannot help if a crime is not reported.  The public can always be assured that we will always do our very best with the resources that we’ve got.’