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Justice written question – answered on 18th July 2013.

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Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many of those sentenced for retail theft as of 21 May 2013 had more than (a) one, (b) two, (c) five and (d) 10 prior convictions.

Photo of Jeremy Wright Jeremy Wright The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The following table shows the number of previous convictions of offenders who were sentenced for retail theft in England and Wales 2008 to 2012.

Number of previous convictions of offenders who were sentenced for retail theft in England and Wales 2008 to 2012.
    Number of previous convictions
  Offenders convicted in each year 0 1 or more 2 or more 5 or more 10 or more
2008 70,611 6,177 64,434 59,908 51,157 40,225
2009 75,394 7,470 67,924 62,733 53,064 41,999
2010 74,866 7,476 67,390 62,160 52,603 42,038
2011 73,734 6,801 66,933 62,177 53,116 43,114
2012 72,180 5,837 66,343 62,031 53,691 44,224
Source: Ministry of Justice

It should be noted that around 98% of offenders sentenced for retail theft are dealt with at a magistrates court, broadly indicating the lower levels of planning involved in the offences in question and the stolen goods typically being of a lower value. An increasing number of offences are carried out by re-offenders with five offences or more, which highlights the need for effective rehabilitation of those convicted. The Government is committed to strengthening sentences, so that they combine robust punishment with requirements that are effective at preventing further offending and which provide reparation to victims and communities. At a time when crime is falling we have increased the length and duration of curfews, given courts greater flexibility to impose programme and treatment requirements, and made the delivery of community payback swifter and more intensive.

The data provided are based on the primary offence at each separate sentencing occasion and are based on sentenced occasions and not sentenced individuals which means an individual may appear more than once in each year in the data.

Numbers of previous convictions are taken at the time the offender was sentenced for retail theft and are based on counting the number of previous occasions the offender was convicted for any offence. An offender may appear more than once in the figures if they have been sentenced for a number of separate retail theft offences over the period.

A retail theft offence has been taken to include the following offence:

Theft Act 1968 Sec. 1 Stealing from shops and stalls (shoplifting)

The Police National Computer (PNC) from which the figures are calculated came into existence in 2000, so data before 2000 are not available. In addition, the latest available figures are for the period up to and including December 2012. Figures about the criminal histories of offenders sentenced during the period January 2013 to March 2013 are due to be published on 22 August 2013.

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