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News

BRC opposes detention of shoplifters on retail premises.

British Retail Consortium : 30 May, 2007  (Company News)
Proposals in PACE review for temporary detention facilities for retail crime raises concern by British Retail Consortium that they might not be properly managed.
Retailers must not be left babysitting criminals if a plan to introduce holding cells in retail outlets gets the go ahead.

A Home Office Consultation on the Review of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 closes today (Thursday). It includes proposals for police to use short term holding facilities (STHF), or cells, located in stores or shopping centres to detain suspects for offences such as shoplifting. Under the proposal they would be held under the supervision of a police officer and would be detained for identification and processing only. Detainees would be held for no longer than four hours.

The BRC believes creating holding cells in retail locations may help combat retail crime but only if the cells are not used to shift the responsibility of apprehending and holding criminals from the police onto shop staff. In particular;.

* The police, not staff, must be responsible for removing offenders from a store to the cell.
* The police, not third parties, must have sole responsibility for the cell's operation.
* In no circumstances should cells in retail centres be used as 'overflow' for police cells.

BRC Director General Kevin Hawkins said: "If used properly these short-term holding cells could help in the fight against escalating retail crime, but only if they live up to their aim of freeing up more police officers for front-line duty.

"That this measure is even being considered indicates how significant retail crime has become. Some 10 million shoplifting offences are committed each year, often leaving staff exposed to potential violence and costing retailers more than £2bn annually.

"If this proposal is to work we need assurances that these cells will not be misused. Many retailers feel let down by poor enforcement and weak penalties. If this is an indication retail crime is being taken seriously that is welcome but shopkeepers cannot act as a babysitting service for criminals and they must not be asked to fund or operate the cells. "
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