The rise in shoplifting – update

Following our article about the rise in shoplifting hitting UK retailers, we thought it useful to update the response by the authorities.

In the article we had mentioned several initiatives already underway. These included:

  • Project Pegasus, which is an initiative run by the Police where they put CCTV images of shoplifting incidents through their National Police Database.
  • Co-Operative employing guards within their stores
  • Waitrose setting up a free coffee scheme for Police officers
  • Tesco providing body cameras to record anyone threatening their staff

In addition, the National Police Chiefs have announced a Retail Crime Action Plan. This scheme will treat shoplifting and retail offences in the same way as organised crime. A specialist team of officers will investigate the offences and hunt down the gangs responsible for organising them.

As part of the scheme, retailers will be given advice on how to gather and provide the best possible evidence for the police to catch offenders and secure a conviction.

A new approach to shoplifting

Dovetailing this new approach is a zero-tolerance policy agreed recently between Police chiefs and Downing Street. In future, police will attend every shoplifting incident which staff were threatened. Retailers will also have new guidance for how shoplifters can be put under a citizen’s arrest. This means all stores across the country will have the same approach to detaining shoplifters.

With recoded shoplifting offences hitting 2,000 every day during the first six months of 2023, yet convictions falling, the new initiatives are hoped to make an impact into what is becoming a critical issue for many High Street stores.  As one source told the Sunday Times, “The reason this is so important is because if we don’t take hard, decisive action now, it could continue to escalate as it has in some American cities like San Francisco.

“We’re determined it won’t happen here and we clamp down on it very hard. That’s the reason for gripping it so decisively. Launching this plan at Number 10 will show how seriously we are taking this.”


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