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Shoplifting: Sentencing

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 6th March 2019.

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Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what the highest number of previous offences for theft from a shop or stall was for a person convicted of a further offence of theft from a shop or stall who was not given a sentence of immediate custody in each of the last three years; and what the sentence was for the most recent offence in each such case.

Photo of Philip Davies Philip Davies Conservative, Shipley

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what the highest number of total previous offences for shoplifting a person committed before being given an immediate custodial sentence for that crime in each of the last three years.

Photo of Rory Stewart Rory Stewart The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

A report by the Centre for Social Justice issued last year concluded that people addicted to heroin and crack cocaine account for 70% of shop thefts. MoJ is committed to ensuring the most vulnerable offenders, including those with drug addictions, are able to access appropriate support at the right time. This includes diverting offenders away from custody where appropriate.

Unless we tackle the underlying causes of offending, we cannot protect the public from being victims of crime. Effective community orders can address offenders’ behaviour, answer their mental health and alcohol or drug misuse needs, and provide reparation for the benefit of the wider community.

Data on the highest number of previous shoplifting offences for a person convicted of a shoplifting offence who was not given an immediate custodial sentence, and the sentence given in each such case, as well as data on the highest number of previous shoplifting offences for a person who received their first immediate custodial sentence for a shoplifting offence, covering the period year ending September 2016 – year ending September 2018, can be viewed in the table.

There is persuasive evidence showing community sentences, in certain circumstances, are more effective than short custodial sentences in reducing reoffending. The MoJ study ‘The impact of short custodial sentences, community orders and suspended sentence orders on re-offending’ published in 2015 found that over a 1-year follow up period, a higher proportion of people re-offended having been sentenced to custody of under 12 months without supervision on release than other similar people given community orders.

Tables for 226078 and 226079 (Excel SpreadSheet, 10.98 KB)

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