Home Office minister Kit Malthouse has committed to a review of the £200 threshold for the police prosecuting shop theft offences after the General Election, during a debate on retail crime in Parliament.
During the debate the minister stated that if re-elected, he would look into the appropriateness of the £200 threshold and the impact that it has on small shops. Currently, offences where less than £200 worth of goods are stolen are considered to be summary-only offences (cannot be dealt with by the Crown Court) and can be eligible for police-led prosecution such as fixed penalty notices.
Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) chief executive James Lowman said: “While we welcome the commitment to a long and overdue review of the £200 threshold, the Government needs to introduce further measures to ensure that they are protecting our colleagues.
“Retailers have become extremely frustrated with the lack of police response to incidents, which subsequently ends up with retailers not reporting crimes because they don’t believe anything will be done. The Government needs to send a clear message that theft is unacceptable and will be dealt with by the police and wider justice system.”
The ACS Crime Survey 2019 found that retailers are overwhelmingly dissatisfied with the response they receive from police to crime against their business. A total of 86% were dissatisfied with the sanctions issued to offenders and 85% were dissatisfied with the consistency of police response.
In the debate, the minister also provided initial findings from the call for evidence that was led by the Home Office earlier this year, noting that analysis of the responses to the call for evidence show that there is a “widespread belief that the problem is increasing”, but stated that he is “not convinced that we don’t have the existing means to tackle the problem.”
There were more than 800 responses to the call for evidence from businesses and individuals highlighting the both the financial and human cost of crime. The Home Office’s full response was expected to be published in autumn, however due to the General Election this is likely to be pushed back into the new year.
Lowman continued: “The violent and abusive behaviour that retailers and colleagues in our sector have faced and continue to face is completely unacceptable. These incidents have dramatic and often lifelong impacts on the individual, the business and the local community. All incidents of violence and abuse should be reported, however frustrating the process may be, to ensure that the police know the full extent of the problem.”
ACS wrote to the Minister ahead of the debate highlighting the extent and impact of crime committed against the convenience sector, revealing that there have been an estimated 200,000 assaults and threats of people working in retail and wholesale sector since the Home Office’s call for evidence closed.
ACS has been working with the Home Office, USDAW and the Co-op on the #AlwaysReportAbuse campaign to raise awareness about the human impact of crime against shopworkers and to encourage colleagues to report incidents when they occur.