The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has called on the government to reconsider amendments to the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill.
Ahead of the Parliamentary debate on the Bill on Thursday, the ACS has called for the minimum threshold on shop theft to be reduced from £200 to £100.
“The £200 threshold sends the wrong message to offenders that shop theft is acceptable and victimless,” said ACS chief executive James Lowman. “The government should be looking at how they can support local shops as well as the police by ensuring cautions and fixed penalty notices are recorded and paid, preventing repeat offenders from damaging the profitability and security of local shops and their staff.”
Lowman added: “The proposals in the bill will help police officers and courts to process offences faster but will make no difference to retailers that regularly suffer theft of low value items by repeat offenders.”
The proposal to place a £200 minimum limit on shop theft cases before they can be heard in a Crown Court attracted widespread criticism during its Second Reading. David Hanson, MP for Delyn, has tabled a further amendment to reduce that amount to £100.
Priti Patel, MP for Witham and Chair of the All Party Small Shops Group, also criticised the £200 minimum limit. “Shop thieves can have a damaging impact on the small shops and their staff, it is by no means a victimless crime. The government proposals will help the police but will do little to support small shops that lose money on a daily basis to shop thieves. The Police and CPS should always support the victims of crime and if retailers want thieves prosecuted to the full extent of the law then that is what should happen.”
The Bill is currently at the Committee stage before its Third Reading later this month.