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Fresh approach to shoplifting urged


Are you fed up with the criminal justice system’s failure to take shoplifting more seriously and give it the emphasis it truly deserves?

If the answer is yes, a new report from influential independent think-tank the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) agrees.

“Shop theft is not a victimless crime and nor is it one that should be readily dismissed,” the report, sponsored by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), says. It is a crime against the proprietor and increases prices.

Furthermore, the most serious incidents or prolific offending can cause businesses to close, costing jobs and local employment opportunities, the report adds.

Police recorded shop thefts of more than 385,000 offences last year, the report says, but the true figure, based on Home Office assumptions, is closer to 38m offences.

The CSJ estimates shop theft cost £6.3bn last year. It says the proportion of offenders with dozens of convictions and cautions has soared in the past eight years.

It points to fines, community sentences, short prison sentences and threats for contributing to “a broken system that demands fixing”.

The CSJ claims it is substance abuse that drives as much as 70% of shop thefts.

It slams “a complete failure to tackle the addictions that fuel the bulk of theft”.

The report proposes a new intensive “Second Chance Programme” that would invest up to £250m over five years to target up to 10,000 of the most prolific drug-addicted offenders.

Recommendations include:

  • Improving the reporting, prevention and detection of crime,
  • Ensuring accountability and effective strategies for tackling crime and
  • Making better use of new and existing arrangements to prevent crime.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We are actively promoting the report's call for better working between retailers and police and crime commissioners by calling on all police and crime commissioners to sign up to a series of pledges to take shop theft seriously and deal more effectively with repeat offenders.”

The full report can be read here.

Is there a solution to tackling shop theft and other shop crime? How could the police work better with you in your area? Let us know on the Discussion Forum.

Andrew Don



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