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BRC lobbies Government on status of shoplifting as a crime.

British Retail Consortium : 09 May, 2007  (Company News)
The British Retail Consortium argues that lack of prison capacity should not lead to watering down shoplifting to the level of a crime with light punishment.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) welcomes indications from Downing Street that the Government will reject proposals which would see convicted shoplifters walk free, no matter how many offences they had committed.

Prime Minister Tony Blair is believed to have vetoed proposals from the Ministry of Justice - which is formally created today - to relieve prison overcrowding by severely restricting the use of custodial sentencing for so called 'low-level' offences. The BRC believes such a move would leave retailers at the mercy of hard-core re-offenders who view shop-crime as a lifestyle choice.

The BRC is now calling on the likely next PM, Chancellor Gordon Brown, to follow through and reject further attempts to water-down penalties to overcome lack of prison capacity.

The BRC and its members have lobbied strongly for the retention of custodial sentences. Ninety per cent of shoplifting offences are carried out by repeat offenders. The BRC believes that scrapping prison sentences or limiting them to a maximum four months would give thieves the green-light to keep stealing from shops.

Crime costs shops more than £2bn each year and the number of shoplifting offences has risen by 70 per cent since 2000.

BRC Director General Kevin Hawkins said: "Retailers and their staff need to be reassured that serious persistent offenders will go to prison for enough time to provide respite to victims and deliver proper rehabilitation for the criminal. Going limp on crime is not the answer. The hard-core of shoplifters who view theft as a lifestyle need to know that if they go on offending prison will be the ultimate result."
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