Labour will tackle shoplifting amid 'record levels' with better protection for workers, shadow minister says

20 April 2024, 13:03 | Updated: 20 April 2024, 22:18

Alex Norris MP has outlined plans for the party to tackle shoplifting
Alex Norris MP has outlined plans for the party to tackle shoplifting. Picture: Getty/Official Portrait

By Flaminia Luck

Shadow Policing Minister Alex Norris has told LBC Labour will tacke the issue of shoplifting amid a worrying rise in incidents.

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"Our research has shown that we've reached record levels of shoplifting nearly 1,000 incidents every single day and at the same time charging for shoplifting has fallen by 20%," Mr Norris said.

He added these are the sort of thing that "ruin town centres" for shoppers and workers.

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Shadow Policing Minister Alex Norris on shoplifting

Mr Norris has said the party would reverse cuts to the amount of officers on streets and put more thousands more police on the streets.

He also said Labour would push for the re-instalment of the £200 limit which means goods are worth less than that, the maximum sentence is six months in prison, but this type of offence is usually dealt with by issuing a postal fine.

He also wants more protection shop workers and said the party supports the creation of stand-alone offence for violence against retail workers

He added the goverment voted against this earlier this year.

"I think if you put that package in it would really make a dint in this issue," he said.

He also said he supports the use of facial recgnition but says more manpower is also essential.

"There's no point in having this wonderful technology if you don't have the human beings to make those arrests, never mind then a court system that can process them or a prison system that can hold them."

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Rishi Sunak tells Nick Ferrari he will crack down on shoplifting

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak previously said shops must be free from the threat of crime or abuse.

He told workers "We've got your back" during the unveiling of a new specific offence of assaulting a shop worker.

The new offence, brought in as part of an amended Criminal Justice Bill, will carry a maximum sentence of six months in jail or an unlimited fine. This is the same sentence that can be given out for common assault.

Speaking to Nick Ferrari, Mr Sunak recalled his own experience of seeing shoplifters steal from his parents' pharmacy while he was there.

"Of course, for a small family business it’s obviously financially affecting but it’s also very distressing," he said. "I know what it feels like".

The PM pointed out that crime had gone down in the past 14 years, but admitted that shoplifting had increased. "It’s not acceptable - it’s absolutely not right," he said.

Items are locked up in a store
Items are locked up in a store. Picture: Getty

Helen Dickinson, chairwoman of the BRC, welcomed the announcement, saying that "the voices of the three million people working in retail are finally being heard".

She said: "The impact of retail violence has steadily worsened, with people facing racial abuse, sexual harassment, threatening behaviour, physical assault and threats with weapons, often linked to organised crime.

"Victims are ordinary hardworking people - teenagers taking on their first job, carers looking for part-time work, parents working around childcare."