A record number of shoplifting offences were recorded in Essex last year, new figures show.

Some 11,720 shoplifting offences were recorded by Essex Police in 2023.

That was up 25 per cent from 9,392 crimes in 2022 and the highest since comparable records began in 2003.

Across England and Wales, shoplifting crimes jumped a massive 37 per cent, with 430,104 recorded in the year to December 2023 - the highest in 20 years.

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

Offences involving theft from the person rose 18 per cent from 2022, reaching 125,563 recorded crimes last year.

In Essex, there were 1,547 robberies recorded in 2023, up six per cent from 1,459 the year before.

There were 1,129 theft from the person offences recorded last year - down from 1,217 in 2022.

James Lowman, chief exec of the Association of Convenience Stores, said the figures are likely to only represent a "fraction of the true picture on shop theft" as the "vast majority" end up not being reported.

"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 shop workers," he said.

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."