Last week the Centre for Social Justice published a report called Desperate for a Fix, focusing on tackling the increases in theft and other crime that retailers have experienced recently.
ACS sponsored this report, but it is independent work by a respected policy thinker (and former police officer), Rory Geoghegan. Because it’s his report, it doesn’t approach the issue from a retailer’s perspective, but I think it gets to the meat of the issues, which I see as follows.
First, retailers I speak to are very clear about what they want for people who commit crimes against their staff and business: the toughest punishment to reflect the impact the crime has had on a business and its people. I get that, but the objective, once an offence has happened, has to be making sure that person doesn’t offend again.
The report leads on creating a second chance system for offenders, particularly those with drug problems. This is the right approach. Just as rehabilitation is better for society than imprisonment, so fixed penalty notices, which do nothing to either punish or help offenders, are the worst of all approaches.
The other big theme of the report is the importance of engagement from Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs). We have launched a pledge for PCCs to support retailers and adopt simple but effective ways of dealing with shop theft. Already we’ve seen some PCCs sign up and support from MPs across party lines.
This report won’t eradicate retail crime. But if we work together we can start to reverse the growth in retail crime and make this sector a safer place in which to work.