There was a rise in shoplifting offences recorded in Hampshire last year, new figure show.

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% from 9,186 offences in 2022.

John Halliday, marketing director for Bira, 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% of shop staff had experienced verbal abuse from individuals in their shop. Of those physically assaulted, 70% opted not to report the incidents to the police.

"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," he said.

Across England and Wales, shoplifting crimes jumped 37% with 430,104 recorded in the year to December 2023.

It was the highest level in 20 years.

James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, said the figures were "sadly not surprising".

He added: "Thieves are stealing on a regular basis without fear of apprehension, so it’s essential that every police force in the country takes theft seriously, not least because challenging thieves is one of the biggest triggers for abuse of shopworkers".

The figures are likely to only represent a "fraction of the true picture on shop theft", he said, as the "vast majority" end up not being reported.

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.

The figures show 81,094 robberies were recorded in England and Wales in 2023, up 13% from the year before.

The number of offences involving theft from the person rose 18% from 2022, reaching 125,563 recorded crimes last year.

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."