The Home Office is preparing a publicity campaign to try to overcome retailers’ confusion over the role of fixed penalty notices for shoplifting.

Launched last November, the £80 on-the-spot fines can be handed out to first-time offenders for stealing food worth up to £100. To the end of June, 10,833 fixed penalties had been issued by police.

The Home Office believes more retailers would opt to use the fines if they knew more about them. It is working with retail groups such as the British Retail Consortium (BRC) to put together more information on the notices.

Retailers and trade associations have welcomed the move. Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) public affairs manager James Lowman said: “We realise there is still confusion surrounding when fixed penalty notices can be used. They are a useful tool in combating shoplifting.”

Shaan Chaudry, who runs the Triple A Supermarket in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, said: “If I knew more about them, I’d use them more. They are not something I have used yet because they haven’t been at the front of mind when I come across a shoplifter. They seem to be only a slap on the wrist but it’s better than nothing.”