More than half of shoplifting incidents in Northumberland go unsolved by Northumbria Police, data shows

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There were more than 2,600 reported incidences of shoplifting in Northumberland last year, over half of which were not solved by police.

Police data shows that 2,629 offences were recorded from April 2023 to March 2024, the month for which data is most recently available.

1,492 shoplifting investigations, accounting for 57%, have ended with no suspect being identified, while 279 were still under investigation when the data was published on

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The rest were resolved in court, by another form of police action, or did not have a recorded resolution in the dataset.

2,629 offences were recorded in Northumberland from April 2023 to March 2024 (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)2,629 offences were recorded in Northumberland from April 2023 to March 2024 (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)
2,629 offences were recorded in Northumberland from April 2023 to March 2024 (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

In March 2024 alone 238 offences were recorded, averaging more than 7 incidents per day, up from 214 in March 2023 and 145 in March 2022.

A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: “We understand and recognise the impact that shoplifting can have on businesses and our wider communities.

“In order to further protect shop staff, support business owners, and reassure everyone who works within the retail industry, we recently made some changes to strengthen our response to this type of offending.

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“As part of these changes, we are actively targeting prolific offenders and are also looking to problem solve with retailers to reduce the volume of their offending.

“Our response is also determined by the threat, harm and risk posed by incidents and those with reasonable lines of enquiry.

“We would always encourage anyone who is a victim of crime to report it to us.”

In March, the Newsham Co-op and its neighbouring shops were the most frequently targeted in the county by shoplifters, with 14 incidents reported.

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There were 11 incidents at shops near Keel Row in Blyth and 10 at both Wansbeck General Hospital and the Co-op on Remscheid Way in Ashington.

Office for National Statistics figures show that across the Northumbria Police area, the number of offences recorded in 2023 was up 61% from 2022 and the highest since comparable records began in 2003.

Paddy Lillis, general secretary of retail trade union Usdaw, said: “The scale of assaults, abuse and threats towards shopworkers and extent of the retail crime epidemic has been a disgrace for many years.

“This has been made worse by police cuts and a failure to legislate to protect retail staff.

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“The dither and delay by this government on this issue over many years has led to thousands of shopworkers needlessly suffering physical and mental injury.”

Labour said it would reverse the rule, introduced in 2014, that means shoplifting goods worth £200 or less can be handled as a police-led prosecution in magistrates’ court, which it claims has led police forces to deprioritise shoplifting.

Emma Foody, Labour’s prospective Cramlington and Killingworth parliamentary candidate, said the government had “decimated neighbourhood policing, leaving our town centres unprotected,” adding: “This Tory ‘shoplifter’s charter’ has left local businesses and retail workers at the mercy of criminals.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Under our zero tolerance approach to shoplifting, police are already patrolling areas badly affected by shoplifting, attending more crime scenes, and the volume of charges has risen by 46% in the last year.

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“There is more to do, which is why we are going further and making it a specific criminal offence to assault a retail worker and will introduce greater consequences for those who continue to offend through our retail crime action plan.”