Shoplifting has hit the headlines following the latest crime report from the office of national statistics (ONS). The latest report adds further evidence to last summer’s reports by retailers. Police recorded incidents of shoplifting topped 400,000 in the year ending September 2023. According to this report, it’s the highest level of shoplifting since records began more than 20 years ago in 2002.

In 2023, British retail consortium’s annual crime survey told a similar story. Although the numbers involved are many times more those in the ONS report. This is likely due to the ONS data showing “police reported crime”, and suggests that most incidents of retail theft go unreported.

£953 million was lost to customer theft with 8 million incidents of theft over the year

British Retail Consortium

In October 2023, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) published a retail crime action plan. This recognised the need for retailers and police to build a partnership in order to tackle high levels of retail crime. The plan said police would patrol “hotspots” and prioritise attendance at scenes where violence was used, the offender was detained or evidence needed to be promptly secured.

The plan includes a detailed section regarding CCTV evidence. It states that CCTV images provide ideal opportunities to progress investigations. The importance of high quality CCTV cannot be stressed highly enough in deterring criminals and bringing those who carry out crimes to justice. Facial recognition CCTV systems are a valuable tool for retailers.

Where CCTV or other digital images are secured, police will run this through the Police National Database using facial recognition technology to further aid efforts to identify and prosecute offenders – particularly prolific or potentially dangerous individuals.

NPCC Retail Crime Action Plan