Cambridgeshire-based retailer Jonathan James is embarking on what feels to him like a “one-man crusade” to contest the government’s introduction of fixed penalty notices for shoplifters.

From November 1, police forces will be able to issue thieves with an £80 fine rather than drag them through the courts, but James has labelled the move “pathetic” and wants to see the industry take a stand and not be “fobbed off with yet another Blunkett gimmick”.

In a letter to Forecourt Trader, James said: “Is this an effective means of combating the rising tide of shoplifting or just another method of the government falsely reducing crime statistics? While some may say that it is another means of imposing the same fine handed out by a court, I look at the broader picture. Theft makes you a thief and by being arrested, finger-printed, photographed and detained for interviewing, you may realise just how the law views your crime.”

He added that with the ever-increasing costs (minimum wage) and the onslaught of major multiples, retailers’ margins are continuing to decrease, and shoplifters are a significant drain on their bottom line.

“The FPN will only go to fuel the shoplifters’ desire to see us as easy pickings and provide no deterrent,” he said. “Our industry must take a stand now – get the public on our side and make the government realise that, unlike so many of their issues, this one cannot be brushed under the carpet.”