The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has called for tougher sanctions against repeat shop theft offenders.

The call came as part of the ACS’s evidence to the Sentencing Council consultation on draft guidelines for sentencing on theft. These guidelines are used by magistrates to assess impacts of theft offences and sanctions for offences, taking into account aggravating and mitigating elements.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said:  “The new sentencing guidelines are much clearer and we welcome the focus the council has placed on assessing and accounting for the harm caused to the victims of shop theft.

”However, retailers are increasingly frustrated by repeat offenders targeting their stores and staff and the inadequate response from the justice system. We want to see tougher sanctions for repeat offenders with their previous convictions taken into account in sentencing deliberations.”

According to the ACS Crime Report 2014, shop theft cost the convenience sector £44m last year while Sentencing Council research showed that in 2012, for the offence of theft from a shop or stall, 41% of offenders that were sentenced had 10 or more previous convictions identified at the time of sentencing to be relevant and recent to the offence. An additional 24% of adult offenders had between four and nine relevant and recent previous convictions.