Britain to go even easier on shoplifters

Stephen Beard Aug 25, 2006
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Britain to go even easier on shoplifters

Stephen Beard Aug 25, 2006
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TEXT OF STORY

LISA NAPOLI: Retailers in Britain are reacting angrily to a new plan for what to do with shoplifters. From London, Marketplace’s Stephen Beard reports.


STEPHEN BEARD: Britain’s Sentencing Advisory Panel has proposed that shoplifters be punished with community service, not prison.

Only where violence is involved or children are used or very high value items are stolen should the perpetrator go to jail.

If adopted this would mark a further softening of the British attitude to theft. The UK already punishes many small time shoplifters the same way it punishes drivers for a parking offense.

Dale Atkinson speaks for retailers. He complains that the latest move plays down the economic damage caused by this crime.

DALE ATKINSON: We don’t view shoplifting as a petty crime. It’s worth in this country more than $1 billion US dollars each year to the bottom line. So obviously that’s having an enormous effect.

But penal reformers say that many persistent shoplifters are drug addicts so going to jail won’t deal with the underlying cause of the crime.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

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