Home Office written question – answered at on 28 March 2024.

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Photo of Lord Swire Lord Swire Conservative

To ask His Majesty's Government what has been the loss to the UK economy because of shoplifting for each of the last three years.

Photo of Lord Swire Lord Swire Conservative

To ask His Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with police forces in England and Wales about their response to shoplifting, in the light of the Retail Crime Action Plan.

Photo of Lord Swire Lord Swire Conservative

To ask His Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with Retailers Against Crime on the rise in organised shoplifting.

Photo of Lord Sharpe of Epsom Lord Sharpe of Epsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The Government recognises the significant impact shoplifting and violence towards shopworkers has on businesses, communities, and consumers, as well as the loss to the economy. The Government has been clear we expect a zero-tolerance approach to retail crime and shoplifting.

It’s difficult to produce reliable estimates of the cost of shoplifting. Many incidents do not come to the attention of the police, so data on the number of shoplifting crimes recorded by them only provide a partial picture. While official statistics from the Commercial Victimisation Survey (CVS) provide reliable estimates of the prevalence and frequency of shoplifting, the CVS no longer collects data the number of shoplifting offences or the overall cost of these crimes. When the CVS has collected this information in the past, retailers found it difficult to recall precise numbers of crimes they experienced, and the associated costs. As a result, these estimates we judged to be insufficiently reliable.

Home Office ministers have not met Retail Against Crime. The National Retail Crime Steering Group (NRCSG), which the Minister for Crime, Policing and Fire, the Rt Hon Chris Philp, co-chairs alongside the British Retail Consortium, ensures the response to retail crime is as robust as it can be. The NRCSG meets quarterly and comprises senior representatives from policing, the retail sector, retail trade associations, security providers and Government departments.

At this forum, the Retail Crime Action Plan is a standing agenda item. At the last NRCSG, policing colleagues updated me on the implementation of the plan. Statistics published by the National Police Chiefs’ Council show early signs of progress. A dip-sample of data from 31 police forces of over 1,500 crimes show police attended 60% of incidents reported by retailers where violence had been used, with 16% of forces sampled reporting 100% attendance to this type of incident.

The Government is supporting Pegasus, a unique private-public partnership, which involves retailers providing data, intelligence and evidence to Opal, the national police intelligence unit on organised acquisitive crime, to develop a better strategic picture and help forces crack down on serious offenders.

The Home Office will continue to work with members of the NRCSG, including policing and retailers to tackle shoplifting, including organised, as well as other crime experienced within retail settings through our wider work.

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