A Conservative Party think tank has proposed 10 measures to cut retail crime and break the "circle of apathy" that exists between retailers and the police and prevents crimes such as shoplifting and abuse of staff from being reported.
A document published by the Conservative Commission on Retail Crime says that if retailers receive a slow response from the police, who then hand down lenient sentences, retailers are then discouraged from reporting future crimes.
The Commission, which is chaired by MP Philip Dunne and includes representatives from the Federation of Small Businesses and the British Retail Consortium, received evidence from retailers and trade associations and came up with a list of 10 recommendations relating to sentencing, reporting and enforcement of retail crime.
These include creating a priority within the Home Office for community-led retail crime which would require local police forces to share information on cross-border criminal activity, and that persistent offenders receive custodial sentences as well as rehabilitation.
It also called for police to deal with anti-social and delinquent behaviour before it manifested into theft or vandalism.
The report will now be considered for inclusion in Conservative Party policy.
Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman welcomed the publication of the report and said that it represented a step in the right direction. "The Commission has come up with solutions that would make a difference," he said.
"The 10 proposals show that they listened closely to the concerns of retailers and that policymakers are recognising that retail crime affects victims both within the industry and the communities they serve."
The 10 Retail Crime Commission recommendations:
1. A community-led retail crime reduction priority is established with Home Office support
2. Each Crime & Disorder Reduction Partnership should consult with local businesses when creating a retail crime strategy
3. Police should record where crime takes place in premises
4. Local police forces should collaborate and share information
5. The Audit Commission should take responsibility for identifying and encouraging best practice in local crime reduction initiatives
6. Police be given powers to deal with anti-social behaviour and delinquent behaviour that may led to retail theft or vandalism
7. More emphasis placed on intervening earlier to deal with underlying causes of crime and anti-social behaviour
8. Community-based sanctions to be used for first-time offences where appropriate
9. Fixed Penalty Notices to be only used for first-time offences and for these to go on record to ensure future identification
10. Persistent offenders receive custodial sentences but undergo rehabilitation. Prisons and other providers of rehabilitation services should be paid according to their rate of success.