Shoplifting in England and Wales reached its highest level for 12 years in 2015, according to the Office of National Statistics.

The National Crime Recording Standard (NCRS) shows a 3% rise in shop theft for the year ending September 2015 and the highest volume since the NCRS began in 2003. The rise bucks the general trend of most offences showing a steady decline.

The police recorded a total of 332,277 shoplifting offences over the period – 9,313 more than in the year to the end of September 2014. Meanwhile, 28 out of the 44 regional police forces recorded a rise, with London’s Metropolitan police recording a 10% rise in shop theft.

James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, said: “Shop theft is a serious crime, which for some retailers can be extremely damaging to the profitability of their business. These Government figures are disappointing and must not be ignored.”

The NCRS notes the rise may reflect businesses and retailers adopting new policies leading to a greater proportion of incidents being reported to police.