Indeed. Again, shop staff are part of the community. The town I live in is 12,000-strong. The people who work in small shops there live in the town. They put a uniform on for 20 hours a week in some cases. In some cases, low-paid staff are putting a uniform on and enforcing the law of the land. We have to give them support. As well as the legislation, we also need to look at prosecution and the response from the police. That is important.
Following on from bringing together the numbers and examining legislation, the third of my six points is about engaging with police and crime commissioners to make shop crime a priority. The ACS has a pledge, which basically says that police and crime commissioners should pledge to be
“confronting reoffending, particularly prolific reoffenders with drug dependencies” and
“working to standards on what a ‘good response’
to shop theft looks like”,
which is the very point that my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham West and Royton made. Another pledge is to be
“always responding promptly to shop theft where violence is involved or where a suspect is detained”.
Often it is a shop staff member detaining someone who is drunk or out of their head on drugs in the shop.
Fifteen of the 40 police and crime commissioners have signed up to that pledge, which means that 25 have not. It is important that the Home Office grabs hold of the issue, co-ordinates a response, gives a level of guidance and priority and indicates that this is an important issue. We can argue about police numbers—we have done and will continue to do so—but this is an important issue. This crime causes trauma and difficulties and the Government should examine it, so I urge them please to engage with police and crime commissioners.
The fourth of my six points is, going back to what I said earlier, about community-based penalties. My hon. Friend Kate Green has indicated one mechanism. Drug and alcohol orders are another. There may be other things that can be done, including with approaches to CCTV. There could be guidance on other issues where we can give support and help. A lot of employers, such as the Co-op, are investing a lot of money in headsets, CCTV and a whole range of wireless operation things, but not every store can do that, particularly individual stores, where it is an extra burden of cost. Support for some of the community penalties will take pressure off them.
My fifth and almost final ask is for the Government, five years on, to review the £200 limit to see whether it is working, whether it has made a difference and where we are with that.
My sixth ask for the Minister is simply this: the Home Office, with the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Government, could explore the whole range of good practice that can be undertaken and push it out. I welcome the ongoing discussions with the organisations, but that can be done on a regular basis. I know there is a business group. What have the outcomes of it been in the nine years it has been established? What positive outcomes from it have moved things on?
Going back to my time in the Home Office, we had funds available that key organisations could bid for to help reduce crime. CCTV camera schemes could be discussed and improved. There might be all sorts of radio wireless schemes. There might be a whole range of things that the Home Office could do. It could have a fund for organisations to bid against for support to ensure we make a difference.