CHRIS PHILP: Shoplifting is not a 'minor' crime09/19/2023
CHRIS PHILP: Shoplifting is not a ‘minor’ crime… I want to see a zero-tolerance approach from police
Shoplifting is not a ‘minor’ or ‘low-level’ crime. That’s why I want to see a zero-tolerance approach from police.
Theft from shops – whether large chains or independent retailers – is against the law and perpetrators could face a maximum sentence of seven years. And for good reason. The consequences are devastating.
The British Retail Consortium found nearly £1 billion was lost to theft between April 2021 and March 2022. For smaller shops, even a modest loss can ruin livelihoods.
But this is not just a question of financial losses. If shoplifting is left unchecked, the problem will escalate as perpetrators are emboldened to commit more crimes. As with many types of criminality, offending can escalate – for example, to violence and abuse.
Attacks against staff are unacceptable. I say that not just as Minister for Crime and Policing but also as someone who worked in a supermarket in South London as a teenager.
CHRIS PHILP: Shoplifting is not a ‘minor’ or ‘low-level’ crime . That’s why I want to see a zero-tolerance approach from police
CHRIS PHILP: That is why I have supported the work of Katy Bourne, Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex, on Project Pegasus
READ MORE: UK’s shoplifting capitals: Interactive map reveals the places where light-fingered locals are ransacking stores the worst – so how bad is YOUR area?
Cleveland tops the table as the place with the most number of shoplifting crimes in the past five years per 1,000 people
That is why we recently introduced tougher sentences for assault against those who are serving the public, reflecting the seriousness of assaults against retail workers. We also led a police recruitment drive and now have a record number of officers in England and Wales, and I have acted to reduce bureaucratic burdens placed on them.
This will free up time for officers to do the job they have trained for and are good at – common sense policing that protects communities and catches criminals.
According to the latest stats, violent crime is down by 46 per cent since 2010 and neighbourhood crime by 51 percent. But we must do more.
That is why I have supported the work of Katy Bourne, Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex, on Project Pegasus, which enables retailers to share information with the police on organised gangs shoplifting across the country.
I also want new technology such as facial recognition used widely and lawfully. Police should always seek CCTV footage of crime, run it through the databases and make an arrest where they get a face-match.
The public rightly expect these crimes to be followed up. The commitment from police leaders to always follow all reasonable lines of inquiry for all crime types, including shoplifting, is significant.
We are also rolling out hotspot patrols to combat anti-social behaviour and protect high streets. This started over the summer in ten areas and in April will be rolled out across all of England and Wales, backed by £42 million of funding.
I am working closely with the National Police Chiefs Council leads, Police and Crime Commissioners and retailers to develop urgent plans to clamp down on shoplifting.
Our message is clear: there is no such thing as ‘minor’ crime. A zero-tolerance approach is needed.
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