SURREY Police says it has rolled out a new approach to tackle the scourge of shoplifting in the county, including flooding “hotspots” with more uniformed and plain-clothed officers.

A Surrey Police spokesman said: “The force has adopted a new strategy to tackle shoplifting following a 26 per cent increase in offences in Surrey over the last 12 months (this data is from December 5, 2023, and is reflected nationally).

 “The force approach to combating shoplifting includes:

- Uniformed patrols at shoplifting hotspots

- Deployment of plain clothes officers to hotspots

- The review of all new and recent shoplifting offences

- Mobilising large numbers of officers and staff across all departments to match demand

- Engaging with shop owners/workers to share security advice and gather evidence

- Increased intelligence work to identify trends, patterns and prolific offenders

- Engaging with previous offenders to support them to stay off the path of criminality

 “A one-day operation was carried out on December 12 with the specific objective of tackling shoplifting.

“This resulted in 20 arrests, eight people being charged with 23 offences, visits to 135 commercial premises to offer security advice and engaging with 12 previous offenders to help support them in staying away from criminality.

 “A new national action plan was launched in October 2023, including a commitment to increase police attendance and pursue more evidence.

“A first-of-its-kind national partnership, ‘Pegasus’, has been jointly funded by Government and retailers including John Lewis, Co-op, and Primark, to set out further measures to tackle the rise in shoplifting, catch more prolific offenders and keep retail workers safe.”