The Sentencing Council has launched a consultation on new guidelines for sentencing shop theft offences.
Covering a variety of types of theft, including shop theft, the proposed guidelines aim to introduce a clearer focus on the impact on victims and to highlight the fact that the effect is not just financial.
In an effort to remove the perception that shop theft is a victimless crime, the draft guidelines also take into account the size and type of business that is hit by theft and that these factors can increase the amount of damage suffered.
Chairman of the Sentencing Council, Lord Justice Treacy said: “Theft comes in a great variety of forms, from someone pocketing a packet of razor blades in a shop to an organised gang stealing railway cables.
”As well as providing effective guidance to help sentencers deal with this wide spectrum of offenders, the guideline will ensure a clearer focus on the impact of thefts on victims beyond just the financial value of what is stolen from them.”
The consultation and focus on the issue has been welcomed by Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) chief executive James Lowman. According to the latest ACS Crime Report, shop theft cost the sector £44m in 2013.
“Shop theft is one of the biggest operational challenges local shops face, with 70% of retailers having experienced shop theft in the last year,” he said. “This is not a victimless crime, it has very serious implications for shop staff and a cumulative cost impact on the business.
“We recognise the need for courts to have a range of sanctions to tackle shop theft but it is important that short term custodial sentences are retained for dealing with persistent and violent shop thieves.”
The consultation closes on 26 June and is available here.