The government has admitted that the current system of issuing fixed penalty notices for retail theft is failing in some parts of the country.
Home office minister Vernon Coaker told Convenience Store that while he believed many police forces were making good use of Penalty Notices for Disorder (PNDs) as a deterrent, there had been problems in the way some PNDs have been applied.
Figures released at the end of last year revealed that less than half (42%) of fines issued in 2006 were paid. In his role as crime reduction minister, Coaker said: "The police have made good use of PNDs for retail theft with the co-operation of the retail sector to crack down on minor, largely first-time offenders. However, we acknowledge there have been problems in the way PNDs are applied in some parts.
"Members of the Retail Steering Group have been invited to comment on the revised guidance which is currently under preparation."
Coaker added that the use of custody to punish shoplifters had increased under the current government.