Young shoplifters in Norwich are being forced to work shifts in the stores they stole from as part of a new police scheme to prevent them re-offending.
As part of the ‘Month of Sundays’ project, first-time offenders pay for their actions by working in stores for four consecutive weekends.
Inspector Ross McDermott, who leads the Norwich city centre Safer Neighbourhood team, said he was confident it would prompt a change in behaviour.
“Most shoplifters are young people, often girls between 13 and 15, who have become involved in crime because of peer pressure,” he said. “What we don’t want to do is criminalise young people who have made a mistake and, if dealt with properly, probably won’t commit another offence in their lives.”
However, retailers in the city are unconvinced. Nigel Dowdney, who owns two stores in Norwich, said: “The fact that they would have to spend time training someone who didn’t really want to be there would probably not appeal to many retailers,” he said.
Tina Sayer of Planet News also had reservations. “I would not be happy with shoplifters having anything to do with cash or with stock,” she said.