Shoplifters and burglars face mandatory prison in law and order push - after Labour calls govt crime record 'abysmal'

1 August 2023, 05:58 | Updated: 1 August 2023, 06:08

The government is planning a crackdown on shoplifters and burglars
The government is planning a crackdown on shoplifters and burglars. Picture: Alamy

By Chay Quinn

Shoplifters, burglars and violent repeat offenders will be jailed under Government crackdown on crime.

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The Ministry of Justice is planning to force judges to jail repeat offenders for shoplifting, burglary, theft and common assault, using new legislation to be included in a crime and justice bill.

These offences do not currently come with a mandatory custodial sentence and Rishi Sunak’s government is seeking to introduce them in an attempt to crack down on crime as part of his latest ploy to win back Tory voters from Labour.

Policing minister Chris Philp is said to be spearheading the move as the Conservative policy blitz continues apace - as Sunak appears to be trying to force Keir Starmer into declaring divisive policy positions.

A Home Office statement said: “Shoplifting strikes at the heart of local communities and we expect police forces to take this seriously – deterring this kind of crime but also catching more offenders.

“We have delivered more police officers in England and Wales than ever before and invested a record of up to £17.6bn in 2023/24 into policing, including for more visible patrols in our neighbourhoods and better security such as CCTV and alarm systems.”

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The plans come after Labour revealed a staggering 94.3% of crimes went unsolved in the last year, according to new figures.

Home Office data shows that only 5.7% of crimes reported resulted in a charge or summons from April 2022 to April 2023 - with 2.3 million crimes dropped without a single suspect being identified.

The figures cover England and Wales and come as Labour tries to bolster its own credentials on law and order - a policy area which Conservative MPs are traditionally trusted on more than the opposition.

Charge rates for sexual offences are still noticeably low - with 3.6% of those reported resulting in prosecution.

Shortages of officers and a rollback of neighbourhood policing has led to low charge rates across the country

Only 6.5% of robbery offences ended with someone being charged - after The Telegraph revealed that in nearly half of the 30,100 neighbourhoods in England and Wales, no reported burglaries were solved in the three years ending in March 2023.

Policing minister Chris Philp is said to be spearheading the move
Policing minister Chris Philp is said to be spearheading the move. Picture: Alamy

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the figures were a "national scandal" as Labour pledged to boost the numbers of crimes solved if the party wins the next election.

Labour has committed to introducing a new requirement for police forces to directly recruit detectives in order to buck a national shortage of sleuths.

Ms Cooper said: "After 13 years of Tory government, over 90% of crimes are going unsolved.

"That is the abysmal Conservative record on law and order - more criminals being let off and more victims being let down.

"For some serious crimes, like rape and robbery, the charge rate is now so low it constitutes a national scandal.

"For far too long in this country, too many crimes have been committed without any consequences. Victims increasingly feel like no-one comes and nothing is done. Labour is determined this has to change."

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "Since 2010, our communities are safer - with neighbourhood crimes including burglary, robbery and theft down 51% and serious violent crime down 46%.

"The Government has delivered more police officers than ever in England and Wales and the Home Secretary expects police to improve public confidence by getting the basics right - catching more criminals and delivering justice for victims.”