Something I find particularly upsetting is when people become victims of crime while they are out earning a living.

I speak to too many hard-working retailers whose livelihoods and welfare is threatened by shoplifting, and too many people who run their own businesses who are sick of having vital tools and equipment stolen from their premises and vehicles.

In 2022-23, England and Wales witnessed a notable increase in shoplifting offences, with about 342,343 cases recorded by the police. This was up from 275,076 in the previous year.

One of the factors I think which might have contributed to this significant increase is the fact that shoplifters are labouring under the misapprehension that nothing will be done about the crime, especially if they keep their illegal hauls to under a certain amount.

That is why I was pleased last month with the Government’s announcement that they would be asking police forces to investigate every theft and follow all reasonable leads to catch offenders.

So what if a thief has taken ‘just’ £30 worth of goods? If you are a small business you cannot afford to lose anything to theft, especially if you are losing that amount or more on a regular basis.

Another form of stealing which really hits those who are just trying to earn a living is the theft of tools from vans, commercial premises or building sites. My heart goes out to hard-working tradespeople who have to delay work and replace expensive equipment at short notice because of this epidemic.

Officers from Devon & Cornwall Police are this week supporting a national week of action to strengthen relationships between retail, security and police in an effort to tackle business crime.

The initiative, which started on Monday, October 16, is co-ordinated by the National Business Crime Centre (NBCC) and aims to equip business owners and security staff with the tools to tackle business crime and raise awareness of the support available to help protect them and their organisations.

Some of the events taking place during the week of action include pop-up crime prevention advice stands in busy shopping areas such as Honiton, Exmouth, Exeter, Barnstaple, Torquay, Plymouth and Newquay; plain clothed officers taking part in anti-shoplifting operations; linking in with local Business Improvement District (BID) managers and other business community partners and patrols with local councillors to better understand local concerns.

I am pleased Devon and Cornwall Police is sending the message that this will not be tolerated and would urge businesses to work with the force not just this week but every day to ensure all crime is reported. It is only when we have a true and accurate picture of an issue we can put in place the necessary resources to counter it.