The number of penalty notices issued for shop theft under £100 has declined by 95% over the last 10 years, according to new data published by The Ministry of Justice.


The statistical bulletin covering the year ending June 2019 found a 95% decline since 2009, falling from 49,445 penalty notices to 2,279. Penalty notices or out of court disposals are the most commonly used approach when dealing with shop theft offenders.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The policy of giving fixed penalty notices to shop thieves - relegating these offences to the status of a parking fine - has failed. Not only has this approach prevented proper interventions to deter future offences and support perpetrators with addiction and other problems, but the police are now saying that this system isn’t workable.

“Shop theft must be taken seriously as an offence in its own right and because it is the top trigger for violent incidents that occur in local shops. Figures from our Crime Report show that in the convenience sector alone, there were almost 10,000 incidents of violence and abuse last year.

“Over three quarters of offenders stealing from local shops are repeat offenders who are not deterred by fines or cautions. The government must undertake an urgent review into how shop theft offenders are dealt with to tackle the cycle of reoffending.”

ACS’ Crime Report 2019 found that retailers are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with the response they receive from police to crime against their business. As many as 86% of convenience retailers were dissatisfied with the sanctions issued to offenders, and 85% were dissatisfied with the consistency of police response.