The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has responded to the publication of the Office for National Statistics’ annual Crime Survey for England and Wales, highlighting the significant issues retailers and their staff face when dealing with shop theft.

According to the ONS survey, the number of police recorded shop theft incidents for the year ending June 2018 has reached 382,706, a 1% increase on the previous year. The survey also reports a significant increase in the number of violent offences recorded, increasing by 19% over the last year to 1.4 million.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The official statistics may show a slight increase in the number of shop thefts being recorded by the police, but the number of incidents that don’t end up being recorded is likely to be much higher. Retailers consistently tell us that shop theft is regarded as ‘low level’ by their police forces, often do not get dealt with properly and are sometimes screened out entirely. These incidents need to be taken seriously by forces, because theft often leads to abuse and aggressive behaviour against retailers and their staff, who are just doing their job and enforcing the law.”

The 2018 ACS Crime Report shows that the issue retailers are most concerned about in their stores is violence against their staff. There is also a clear link between theft and abuse, with challenging shop thieves being the number one cause of aggressive behaviour in stores.

ACS has reiterated its calls for all police and crime commissioners to pledge to ensure that police forces take shop theft and abuse of staff seriously, and respond to incidents where they’re reported.