Shoplifting from smaller stores has been “virtually decriminalised” because the offences are not treated as a priority by police or the courts, Labour MP and London mayoral candidate David Lammy has said.
In a report for right-leaning think tank Policy Exchange, Lammy said the problem of low-value property offending in England and Wales was “largely unaddressed”.
Among a raft of recommendations, he argued that the law should be changed to define the seriousness of shoplifting by the impact on the victim rather than a nominal monetary figure.
The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime & Policing Act 2014 sets the threshold for a “serious” shoplifting offence at goods valued at £200 or higher. But Lammy said: “The impact of a £150 theft, for example, would be far greater on an independent corner shop than on Fortnum & Mason.”
The report also suggests the courts are failing to tackle the problem of repeat offending, as half of those sentenced for thefts in the year to June 2014 had 15 or more previous convictions or cautions.
Lammy suggests implementing higher penalties for repeat offenders. Other recommendations include restoring ward-level neighbourhood policing teams.