Posted: Wed 10th Apr 2024

Tougher measures for shoplifters and those who assault retail workers

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

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In a move aimed at cracking down on retail crime, the UK Government has announced a series of tough new actions aimed at deterring serial shoplifters and those who assault retail workers.

These measures include making assaulting a retail worker a standalone criminal offence, signaling a clear stance against what is deemed unacceptable behavior on the high streets.

Under the new legislation, individuals found guilty of such offences could face up to six months in prison, receive an unlimited fine, and be subjected to a ban from returning to the scene of their crimes.

More severe cases, including those involving grievous bodily harm, could result in life sentences for the perpetrators.

To further clamp down on repeat offenders, the government plans to introduce mandatory tagging for those repeatedly convicted of shoplifting or assaulting staff.

The government is also ramping up the use of facial recognition technology to help catch perpetrators and prevent shoplifting in the first place. Backed by a £55.5m investment over the next four years, the police will be able to further roll this new state of the art technology.

This will include £4m for bespoke mobile units that can be deployed to high streets across the country with live facial recognition used in crowded areas to identify people wanted by the police – including repeat shoplifters.

The mobile units will take live footage of crowds in towns and on highstreets, comparing images to specific people wanted by the police or banned from that location. Police in the area will then be alerted so they can track down these offenders.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:

Since 2010, violent and neighbourhood crime in England and Wales has fallen dramatically, showing our plan to keep our streets safe is working. Yet shoplifting and violence and abuse towards retail workers continues to rise.

I am sending a message to those criminals – whether they are serious organised criminal gangs, repeat offenders or opportunistic thieves – who think they can get away with stealing from these local businesses or abusing shopworkers, enough is enough.

Our local shops are the lifeblood of our communities, and they must be free to trade without the threat of crime or abuse.

The action set out today builds on the successes already through the police’s Retail Crime Action Plan, which was commissioned by the Crime and Policing Minister, Chris Philp last year.

This included a range of measures, such as a police commitment to prioritise urgently attending the scene of shop theft involving violence against a shop worker, where security guards have detained an offender or where attendance is needed to secure evidence, which is showing signs of progress.

Paul Gerrard, Campaigns and Public Affairs Director of The Co-op Group, said:

The Co-op sees every day the violence and threats our colleagues, like other retail workers, face as they serve the communities they live in.

We have long called for a standalone offence of attacking or abusing a shopworker and so we very much welcome the Government’s announcement today.

The Co-op will redouble our work with police forces but these measures will undoubtedly, when implemented, keep our shopworkers safer, protect the shops they work in and help the communities both serve.


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