Starmer vows crackdown on 'shoplifting epidemic' plaguing Britain after stats soar to 20-year-high

30 April 2024, 16:11

Keir Starmer has pledged a crackdown on shoplifting
Keir Starmer has pledged a crackdown on shoplifting. Picture: Getty
Natasha Clark

By Natasha Clark

Sir Keir Starmer has put shoplifters "on notice" of a fresh crackdown under Labour - after offences soared to record levels.

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The Labour boss insisted he won't stand by "while crime takes over our streets" as he promised a fresh focus on tackling shop crime if he gets to power.

Offences of shoplifting in England and Wales soared to 430,000 offences in 2022 - up 37 per cent from the year before, and nearly one every minute.

That's the highest figure since records began, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Sir Keir today vows to reverse the so-called 'Shoplifter's Charter' - where officers de-prioritise shoplifting goods of under £200.

Keir Starmer Puts Shoplifters On Notice In Speech At USDAW Conference
Keir Starmer Puts Shoplifters On Notice In Speech At USDAW Conference. Picture: Getty

Starmer said: “Today I am putting shoplifters on notice. You might get away with this under a weak Tory government.

“But if Labour takes power, we won’t stand by while crime takes over our streets."

And he hit out at "epidemic" levels of shop theft which can never be described as "petty".

Read More: Latest sign of scale of UK shoplifting laid bare as Tesco puts protein bars inside security cases

Read More: Gone in 60 seconds: Stores targeted by thieves nearly ‘once every minute’ as shoplifting hits record high

Sir Keir added: “Nobody in Britain should be in any doubt about the scale of the crime wave on our high streets at the moment. The epidemic levels of shoplifting and the persistent plague of antisocial behaviour.

“Some people call this type of crime ‘petty’. But they don’t work in your shop. They don’t walk in your shoes. Don’t see the damage this does to your community.”

Labour's found new analysis of Home Office stats which show that 248,000 shoplifting cases were closed last week without a single suspect being found.

Speaking to Usdaw's annual conference in Blackpool this afternoon, he vowed to reverse that rule, and put street safety at the heart of his government.

An Usdaw survey has revealed that nearly one in five shopworkers suffered a violent attack last year.

Labour also want to make attacking a shop worker a specific offence - something PM Rishi Sunak has also recently promised to do - and put 13,000 extra neighbourhood police on the beat.

Caller Mike pinpoints 2012 as the moment there was 'no point phoning in a shoplifting offence'

Last week LBC discovered shocking footage showing Boots and Greggs stores being targeted by brazen thieves in London over the weekend amid a surge in shoplifting across the country.

More and more goods in shops are being locked up to avoid them being nicked - most recently even protein bars with the value of just a few pounds were being put inside glass cases.

Earlier this month, Rishi Sunak launched a fresh crackdown on serial shoplifters, and the government said they would make assaulting a shopworker a separate criminal offence.

Ministers had previously ruled out creating a separate criminal offence, insisting it was not "required".

But the Government has now changed its position, with the prime minister announcing that the Criminal Justice Bill would be amended to bring in the new offence.

"I am sending a message to those criminals - whether they are serious organised criminal gangs, repeat offenders or opportunistic thieves - who think they can get away with stealing from these local businesses or abusing shopworkers, enough is enough," Mr Sunak said.

"Our local shops are the lifeblood of our communities, and they must be free to trade without the threat of crime or abuse."

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