Retailers joined forces this week to back a national civil recovery programme to get tough on retail crime. Under the scheme run by Retail Loss Prevention, thieves will be issued with a notice of civil recovery from the store manager and expected to pay compensation ranging from £60 to several thousand, irrespective of any criminal case pursued by the police. With the exception of Asda, which piloted its own civil recovery scheme two years ago, all of the major multiples have joined or are close to joining the scheme, which also has the support of a clutch of major high street retailers. Safeway has taken the lead, with almost 95% of stores operating civil recovery and a pilot scheme in place to tackle theft from petrol forecourts. Refusing to be drawn on Asda's failure to come on board, Retail Loss Prevention director Professor Joshua Bamfield suggested the retailer was waiting until legal queries concerning its own scheme were resolved before considering other options. The legal position on civil recovery is now far clearer than it was just a few months ago following the success of three major test cases in the spring. When offenders refused to pay civil claims, Tesco, HMV and Littlewoods took them to the county courts and won. Damages awarded ranged from £350 to well over £8,000. But Mike Schuck, British Retail Consortium spokesman on retail crime, insisted the policy is about more than recovering costs. Figures from a pilot scheme involving Tesco in the West Midlands proved civil recovery is also a significant deterrent, with incidences of theft in participating stores down by a quarter. {{NEWS }}