A month long crackdown on unpaid fines announced today by Her Majesty’s Courts Service is an important step towards the proper enforcement of penalty notices but should become a more permanent policy.
The British Retail Consortium’s (BRC’s) latest annual crime survey highlighted a rise in the value of goods stolen from shops, and called for an increased level of commitment from law makers and law enforcers to tackling the problem. Retailers have increased their own spending on crime prevention to £210 million a year.
Average figures for England and Wales show that there were more than 170,000 Penalty Notices for Disorder (PNDs) issued in 2009. More than a quarter of those, over 48,000, were for retail theft but only 51% were paid.
The BRC’s recommendations to reduce retail crime include making PNDs a greater deterrent by ensuring they are properly enforced.
British Retail Consortium Director of Business and Regulation, Tom Ironside, said, “People who steal from shops are criminals and deserve to be punished. It’s wrong that honest customers who pay for their goods end up subsidising thieves.
“The Ministry of Justice has proposed a greater use of fines, but for that to work it is crucial they act as an effective deterrent. Letting offenders get away with not paying fines discourages the police and retailers themselves, who need to have faith in the system.
“Retailers would like to see unpaid penalty notices tackled by a national enforcement unit with powers to take money by other means, such as from benefits or salary payments. This month long crackdown by the court service is a very positive move and we would welcome efforts to make this approach a more permanent fixture.”
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