A raft of new measures has been announced in the fight against epidemic levels of shoplifting on high streets across Wales.

Increased use of tagging for repeat offenders and the roll-out of facial recognition cameras form part of the crackdown.

A new standalone offence for assaulting a shop worker will carry a sentence of up to six months in jail or an unlimited fine. Criminal Behaviour Order will also ban offenders from returning to that shop.

The moves have been welcomed by Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for Dyfed-Powys, Ian Harrison, who said: “Shoplifting is the scourge of our high streets. Local shops are the heart of our communities, especially in rural areas, and this sends out a tough message to those who think it is acceptable to rob local businesses and abuse the people who work in them.

“Of particular concern is the appearance of organised shoplifting gangs, targeting our smaller High Street retailers. One local shopkeeper advised me that police response has been woefully inadequate.”

Helen Dickinson, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, said the voices of people working in retail had finally been heard after relentless campaigning.

Retail crime is reported to cost business across the UK over £1bn yearly.