Police will be able to issue fixed penalty notices to shoplifters under new government proposals to cut the red tape associated with tackling theft.
Currently, convicted shoplifters face a custodial sentence or a fine, while retailers can also seek compensation, said Association of Convenience Stores public affairs and commercial manager James Lowman.
In practice, however, shoplifting takes up hours of police time, the Crown Prosecution Service is reluctant to use court time, and many cases are simply not pursued.
By contrast, a fixed penalty of £80 at the retailer’s discretion - most likely for first-time or minor offences - was quick, easy and effective, said Lowman. “The overwhelming view of retailers is that this way, something actually gets done.”
ACS Retail Crime Forum chairman Jonathan Clarke added: “We are sick of nothing being done to tackle shop theft. If the police are given the tools to deal with theft efficiently, that’s good news.”
Nisa member Leo Gillen, who operates stores in Hartlepool, said: “What is important is that repeat offenders go through the proper court procedure. So long as this happens we can ensure shop theft is not downgraded to become a secondary offence.”