New figures show a steep rise in shoplifting offences recorded in Hampshire in 2023.

The British Independent Retailers Association said urgent action must be taken to address the "concerning trend" to protect employees and customers.

Office for National Statistics figures show there were 13,705 shoplifting offences recorded by Hampshire Constabulary in 2023. It was up 49 per cent from 9,186 offences in 2022.

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Marketing director for Bira, John Halliday, said the latest figures "paint a troubling picture for independent retailers and businesses across the UK".

He said: "Retail crime not only inflicts financial losses but also poses a grave threat to the safety and well-being of shop staff and customers."

He added a survey by Bira found 35.5 per cent of shop staff had experienced verbal abuse from individuals in their shop. Of those physically assaulted, 70 per cent opted not to report the incidents to the police.

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John said: "It's imperative that urgent action is taken to address this concerning trend and ensure the security of both businesses and their employees and customers."

Nick Stripe, from the ONS, said police recorded crime in the past 12 months shows "notable" increases in robbery, theft from the person and shoplifting.

In Hampshire, there were 1,307 robbery offences in 2023, up slightly from 1,276 the year before.

There were also 1,107 theft from the person offences recorded last year, a rise from 975 in 2022.

Crime and policing minister, Chris Philp insisted the figures show "communities are safer and our plan to cut crime and protect the public is working".

He added: "We know there is always more to do. Earlier this month, we set out tough new action to clamp down on shoplifting and through the Criminal Justice Bill, we are giving the police more powers to seize dangerous weapons."