Retailers have won a rare and valuable victory over shop thieves, as James relates

I know that the use of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) for shop thieves isn't one of the most popular initiatives this government has come up with, but recent news about changes in the way that FPNs are to be used isn't just spin we've really made a difference to how FPNs can tackle shop theft and I'm urging retailers to work with the police to try to make them effective.

Our members have been telling us that thieves are being issued tickets a number of times, making a mockery of the idea that they should only ever be issued to first-time offenders. Too many FPNs are left unpaid, which also undermines the system, and retailers, the victims of shop theft, aren't being consulted as they should be.

We've gathered evidence from members, argued the case for better use of FPNs, and ultimately we've won the argument. The Ministry of Justice accepts that FPNs have not been used properly and their revised guidance, which is published this week, addresses head-on the concerns we put across to them.

I know from my meeting with Justice Secretary Jack Straw that he firmly believes that shop theft is a serious crime that should be treated as such, and now it's up to the police to implement FPNs appropriately.

Many of you may still find that the use of FPNs for any shop theft sticks in your craw, and I understand that view. However, we also have to be aware that the average penalty for a shop thief processed by the courts is wait for it £80. So FPNs can offer a comparable punishment for first-time offenders if they're used effectively.

Have a look at our website (www.acs.org.uk) for more details of your rights concerning FPNs, but let's be grateful that we can point to an issue where the needle really has moved in our favour.

James Lowman

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