• Sentencing Bill is one of 21 Bills announced in today’s Kings Speech, outlining the Government’s commitment to enforcing tougher sentences for the most serious offenders.
• The Kings Speech also confirmed the introduction of the Tobacco and Vapes Bill to introduce a generational ban on tobacco products and restrict the sale and marketing of vapes to younger people.
The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has welcomed the Government’s focus on tackling serious crime in the Kings’ Speech, and has called on the Government to clarify how measures in the Sentencing Bill will support retailers dealing with unprecedented levels of shop theft.
The Sentencing Bill is one of 21 Bills announced in today’s Kings Speech, outlining the Government’s commitment to enforcing tougher sentences for the most serious offenders while also introducing a presumption of suspended sentences for anyone sentenced to 12 months in prison or less.
ACS chief executive James Lowman explained that in recent months, Ministers and Government officials have spoken about getting tough on repeat offenders that are targeting retailers, with a particular focus on shop theft and abuse of retailers and their colleagues. The Retail Crime Action Plan, announced last month, sets out a series of priority areas for police forces and new ways for police to be able to identify offenders including facial recognition and artificial intelligence.
“The Sentencing Bill provides nothing new at this stage for retailers looking for a commitment from the Government on shop theft, but we are pleased that more Police and Crime Commissioners are making theft a priority,” stressed Lowman.
”It is right that the Government is not leaning on short custodial sentences as the only answer for crimes like theft and abuse, but we need to see more use of the measures introduced in the Retail Crime Action Plan to identify repeat offenders and use the right sentences and other interventions to stop the cycle of reoffending.”
The Kings Speech also confirmed the introduction of the Tobacco and Vapes Bill to introduce a generational ban on tobacco products and restrict the sale and marketing of vapes to younger people.
Announcing the Tobacco and Vapes Bill, the King said: “My Government will introduce legislation to create a smokefree generation by restricting the sale of tobacco so that children currently aged fourteen or younger can never be sold cigarettes, and to restrict the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to children”.
The Bill will seek to ensure that anyone born after 1st January 2009 will never be able to legally purchase cigarettes. Additional details on measures to be included in the Bill are currently out for consultation, including potential restrictions on the display of, colours, flavours, and availability of vaping products.
Lowman said: “The convenience sector has a proud record on preventing under-age purchases, and we will need support from the government to implement a totally new policy on tobacco age restriction. The government must consider all of the possible long-term challenges for colleagues and retailers at the front line of implementing a generational ban on the sale of tobacco.
“In both the tobacco and vaping markets, current and future regulations must be enforced far better. It is unacceptable that responsible retailers are being undermined by others selling products that are already illegal, often to children. We need to see further funding for Trading Standards to carry out more local enforcement activity against rogue vape sellers.”
Other notable Bills in the Kings Speech include the Automated Vehicles Bill to enable the safe deployment of self-driving vehicles on UK roads, the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill which is set to replace EU wide GDPR rules for UK businesses, and the Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill to approve new oil and gas fields.
The background briefing document outlining all of the Bills in the speech is available here: