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'Scrapping shoplifting fines wont help' -British Retail Consortium
16
Oct '08
Too many shoplifters are given fixed penalties in circumstances where they shouldn't but simply scrapping fixed penalties for theft is not the answer.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is calling for reform but that should mean ending misuse and inconsistency and ensuring penalty notices are used only in the limited set of circumstances set out in the guidelines.

Reacting to a ten minute rule bill by Anne McIntosh MP, which is due to receive its second reading tomorrow (Friday 17 October), the BRC agreed Penalty Notices for Disorder (PNDs) are currently ineffective in deterring crime.

The retailers' organisation said she is right to draw attention to the inconsistent way they are applied for shoplifting and other crimes against business but they cannot be scrapped while there is no suitable system of alternative punishments.

British Retail Consortium Director General Stephen Robertson said: “We agree that sentences for shop crime are often too weak and fixed penalties provide little deterrent but simply scrapping them won't help.

“Fixed penalties can be appropriate for first time offences but it's clear some offenders are receiving them repeatedly. Reform is needed but that means tackling inconsistency and properly enforcing the guidelines for their use.

Just removing theft from the list of offences attracting a fixed penalty, without having alternatives in place, risks creating more confusion and leaving shoplifters unpunished.”

The ten minute rule bill will amend the guidance issued under section 6 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001. This is the guidance given to chief police officers. The Bill will delete theft from the list of offences in the Criminal Justice and Police Act that attract a penalty notice.

On Monday (20 October 2008) the BRC will use the publication of its annual Retail Crime Survey 2008 to call instead for the guidance given to police officers on the use of fixed penalties to be properly enforced so that they are only used as originally intended. That is for:

* First time offenders

* Thefts below £200 in value and

* With the victim's (retailer's) consent


British Retail Consortium


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