Penalties for shop theft decline 95% in 10 years

The number of penalty notices issued for shop theft under £100 has declined by 95%, according to new data from the Ministry of Justice.

The Criminal Justice System Statistics bulletin, which covers the year to June 2019, reported a 95% fall, from 49,445 penalty notices issued for shop theft offences under £100 in 2009 to 2,279 in 2018-2019.

James Lowman, ACS chief executive, said: “The policy of giving fixed penalty notices to shop thieves – relegating these offences to the status of a parking fine – has failed. Not only has this approach prevented proper interventions to deter future offences and support perpetrators with addiction and other problems, but the police are now saying that this system isn’t workable.

“Shop theft must be taken seriously as an offence in its own right and because it is the top trigger for violent incidents that occur in local shops. Figures from our Crime Report show that, in the convenience sector alone, there were almost 10,000 incidents of violence and abuse last year.

Read more: Alcohol is now most stolen convenience store item, according to ACS report

“Over three quarters of offenders stealing from local shops are repeat offenders who are not deterred by fines or cautions. The government must undertake an urgent review into how shop theft offenders are dealt with to tackle the cycle of reoffending.”

Penalty notices or out-of-court disposals, are the most commonly used approach when dealing with shop theft offenders.

The ACS Crime Report 2019 found that retailers are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with the response they receive from police to crime against their business. It reported that 86% of convenience retailers were dissatisfied with the sanctions issued to offenders and 85% were dissatisfied with the consistency of police response.

Read more: Retailers call on police for greater consistency when tackling retail crime