Theft: Prosecutions

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 4th April 2019.

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Photo of Jonathan Lord Jonathan Lord Conservative, Woking

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department has taken to review the use of Out Of Court Disposals for shop theft; and if he will make a statement.

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

Holding answer received on 03 April 2019

We recognise that shoplifting is not a victimless crime. It causes cost and disruption to businesses, as well as damage to communities and consumers. We encourage all victims, including shop workers, to report these crimes to the police so that they can be recorded and dealt with accordingly.

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. We are committed to ensuring the most vulnerable offenders, including those with drug addictions, are able to access support at the right time. This includes diverting offenders away from custody where appropriate.

Out of Court Disposals are one important tool available in addressing shop theft – they allow the police to deal quickly and proportionately with low-level offending. Where an Out of Court Disposal is appropriate, we encourage the use of disposals which have a condition attached (be that rehabilitative, reparative, punitive or restrictive). This can achieve rapid compensation and/or divert offenders into rehabilitative services to address the root causes of their offending behaviour.

We pay attention to trends and changes in the use of Out of Court Disposals on an ongoing basis.

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