The ACS is stepping up the fight against retail crime with a new scheme enabling its members to operate civil recovery. Civil recovery allows retailers to claim payments from thieves through the civil courts to cover losses and other expenses incurred. Most of the multiples and several high street retailers operate similar schemes. However, independents have been slower to get involved because CR requires complex pre-arrangements with police so retailers can get hold of the information they need to issue civil demands to shoplifters. The ACS scheme simplifies the process by providing registration with CR market leader Retail Loss Prevention, plus the documentation required to operate civil recovery, for £15. The scheme is particularly targeting acsdirect members. ACS public affairs manager James Lowman said civil recovery was not the complete solution to retail crime, but "another tool to help in the fight ­ a strengthening of the message that we prosecute shoplifters". Recovering losses was a crucial aspect but the scheme's chief purpose was as a deterrent, he stressed. "This is not designed to be a cash cow," Lowman added. Northern c-store chain Bells was one of the first convenience chains to get involved, and now operates civil recovery from all stores. Security manager Barrie Hodgson said it had proved particularly effective against staff pilfering, although getting any cash out of other shoplifters, many of whom were on benefit, has proved more difficult. Likewise civil demands cannot be issued to thieves under 16, responsible for a large proportion of theft in some areas. ACS chief executive David Rae said: "Many of our members are operating in neighbourhood areas which don't benefit from town centre CCTV and other security measures. "They are frustrated by the tiny proportion of shop thieves who are not punished adequately by the courts." {{NEWS }}