Retailers have accused police of failing to take a huge surge in e-crime seriously, after a report showed online criminals are costing the industry more than £200m a year.

A BRC study revealed internet-based crime was the biggest emerging threat to retail - but found businesses were unhappy with the support they had received from police forces and the government.

The report estimated e-crime cost retailers £205.4m or 0.75% of online retail sales in 2011-2012 - twice the proportion lost to retail crime. Fraud accounted for £77.3m of this, with the balance representing prevention costs and legitimate business lost as a result.

“The survey found low levels of satisfaction with current police responses to retail e-crime,” said the BRC’s head of crime policy Catherine Bowen. “At least half of retailers said they were dissatisfied with responses, with over a quarter expressing strong dissatisfaction.”

Just 14% were satisfied with law enforcement, which the BRC said was leading to low reporting levels. “Law enforcement and the government need to work with us to develop a consistent, centralised method for reporting and investigating e-crime and resources must be directed to e-crime in line with the emerging threat,” said director general Stephen Robertson.

The most expensive type of e-crime for retailers was personal identification-related frauds, accounting for £20m of losses. Card fraud resulted in £15m losses, while refund frauds were responsible for £1.2m.

This week, Tesco was embroiled in a row over internet fraud after the Information Commissioner’s Office said it was investigating claims of “lax security” on its website. It follows concerns raised by technology bloggers, who claimed basic security practices made it an easy target for criminals.