Police Federation

Long-term funding, better pay and conditions urgently needed in policing to tackle shoplifting epidemic

National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales warns victims will be let down continuously without significant investment from central Government.

19 October 2023


Long-term central Government funding for policing and better pay and conditions for police officers is desperately needed to help tackle the shoplifting scourge.

Theft offences against businesses, such as shoplifting, have hit a record high of 1,000 offences a day, an unprecedented 25 per cent increase in a year, according to latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics today [19 October].

Responding to the epidemic, PFEW National Chair Steve Hartshorn, said: “It is alarming to see such a drastic rise in crimes against businesses, which would be predominately shoplifting, but not surprising in the current cost-of-living climate.

“What is desperately needed to help mitigate this issue includes a visible police presence in local areas, to not only deter shoplifters, but to also enable a swift response, to catch perpetrators and investigate.

“We know the Government wants police forces to prioritise this, and we know victims and businesses owners are left frustrated by the criminal justice system when perpetrators escape with no punishment.

“The truth is this will continue to be the case time and time again, until police forces have sufficient resources to crack down on this. Forces will take action the best they can, but ultimately, we need more boots on the ground as our current workforce is already drowning in demand.

“With an ongoing recruitment and retention crisis, despite efforts to boost officer numbers by 20,000, police officers numbers are not much higher than they were 10 years ago, and during that time, the population in England and Wales has grown by more than four million.

“The number of police officers exiting the service has hit an all-time high. In our latest Pay and Morale survey, nearly one in five police officers told us they plan on handing in their resignation as soon as possible or within the next two years due to reasons including unfair pay and rock-bottom morale.

“These are just a snapshot of the issues and forces or the Home Office must make exit surveys mandatory so we can fully understand why they are leaving and take action.

“Police forces also need a long-term funding settlement from the Government, akin to the NHS, as the one-year deals received make it difficult for chiefs to plan strategically for the future, to effectively target crime.

“Sustainable and significant investment is desperately needed, from central Government – not taxpayers – to enable our frustrated police officers to do their job properly, to protect the public they serve. Police and the public deserve better.”

Other increases in crime include:
• Police recorded theft has increased by 10 per cent
• Offences involving firearm has increased by 13 per cent
• Robbery offences increased by 11 per cent
• Offences involving knives or sharp instruments increased by 3 per cent

Meanwhile, domestic-abuse offences have remained relatively stable. The police flagged 885,393 recorded offences as domestic abuse-related in the year ending June 2023. This represented little change compared with the previous year (892,132 recorded offences).

This was also similar with sexual offences. There was minimal movement in the year ending June 2023 (193,096 offences) compared with the previous year (196,297).

Decreases include homicide, with a 10 per cent fall to 602 offences and violence against the person with a 1 per cent drop.

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