Independent retailers are renewing calls for government grants to help them beef up their security systems as new figures show that incidents of shop theft rose by a quarter in the last year.

According to the Office of National Statistics data, shoplifting increased by 24% in England and Wales in the year to March 2023.

The national president of the Federation of Independent Retailers (the Fed) Muntazir Dipoti said: “Shop theft is not victimless. It blights the lives of independent retailers on a daily basis and has significant implications for a store’s viability.”

He added that as many retailers failed to report shop theft because of poor police responses, the scale of the problem could be much worse.

“Retailers are disillusioned by the lack of police action when crimes are committed so they do not report them. It is, therefore, possible that the number of cases of shop theft over this period could be even higher.

“Tackling shop theft has to be given the energy and priority it deserves from the police and the justice system and independent retailers should be given financial support so they can invest in better-quality CCTV to protect them, their staff and their businesses.”

The Fed’s decision to push the government for grants to improve their security systems was taken at its Annual Conference in June.

Delegates spoke of the need for quality CCTV images for police to successfully gain prosecutions. However, they warned that good quality systems were expensive to buy.

East Lothian retailer Ferhan Ashiq told the conference that the cost-of-living crisis had led to thefts from stores “at levels never seen before.”