The government has pledged to tackle store theft after it was revealed that 78% of those convicted for shoplifting re-offend within a year.

Responding to questions from MPs, justice minister Crispin Blunt said that government plans would lead the number of prisoners serving short sentences for shop theft to “decrease significantly”. 

“Seventy eight per cent is an unacceptably high rate and, as set out in the Green Paper on sentencing and rehabilitation, we are committed to punishing and re-habiltating criminals and turning them away from a life of crime,” he said.

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said that as well as punishing offenders there needs to be more restorative justice for victims. “Shop theft is a serious crime that harms retailer’s livelihoods and has knock-on effects for consumers,” he said. 

“The rate of re-offending is deeply concerning and retailers want to see action. We also believe that more can be done through community pay back to deter offenders and compensate victims.”

He added that while rehabilitation was important especially for substance abusers, prison sentences may be the only solution for some offenders. “There is a point where the only effective sanction is prison and we will continue to press for tough sentences for the worst and most prolific offenders.”

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