The authorities are to target offenders with unpaid Penalty Notices for Disorder (PNDs) in a new enforcement campaign. 

Operation Crackdown is a month-long initiative that will see court enforcement officers and police visit offenders’ homes to collect unpaid fines for penalty notices. According to latest government figures, there were more than 48,000 PNDs issued in 2009 for retail theft but only 51% of these were paid. 

In its recent crime survey, the British Retail Consortium called for an increased level of commitment from law makers and enforcers to tackle retail crime. BRC director of business and regulation Tom Ironside hoped that Operation Crackdown would extend beyond the one month campaign. ”Retailers would like to see unpaid penalty notices tackled by a national enforcement unit with powers to take money by other means, such as benefits or salary payments,” he said. “This month long crackdown by the court service is a very positive move and we would welcome efforts to make this approach a more permanent fixture.” 

He added that if penalty notices are not enforced properly, they are pointless. “It’s wrong that honest customers who pay for their goods end up subsidising thieves,” said Ironside. “The Ministry of Justice has proposed a greater use of fines, but for that to work it is crucial they act as an effective deterrent. Letting offenders get away with not paying fines discourages the police and retailers themselves, who need to have faith in the system.”