Will the Government be putting out a message that shoplifting is not really a serious crime if it removes custodial sentencing? In Brighton alone retailers have saved an estimated £600,000 a year since the Business Crime Reduction Partnership contributed to the removal of 20 of the most prolific shoplifters.
The Sentencing Guidelines Council has been consulting with businesses and closed the discussion on 16 November. In a statement to this Council the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), representing the nation’s small retailers, has called on policy makers not to go soft on shoplifting.
The FSB is particularly concerned at proposals to drop custodial sentences, even for persistent offenders. Small firms are being victimised by repeat offenders and research has shown that almost all offenders sentenced for theft from a shop had a previous conviction.
FSB members cannot understand why the Government attaches more importance to protecting the individual in their home than in their place of work.
David Croucher, FSB Crime Policy Chairman, said, "We literally cannot afford to go soft on crime against businesses. They are vital parts of the community, providing jobs, services and funding for local projects. They need to be supported if communities, particularly in deprived areas, are to survive.
"The proposal to remove the custodial sentence for repeat shoplifters sends out the wrong message to both businesses and criminals and we believe that it must be dropped.
"Our members believe that persistent offenders in particular have to be dealt with firmly to act as a deterrent to prevent future theft. The threat of a custodial sentence must remain for persistent shoplifters."
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