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    Exclusive: Indie retailers welcome tougher laws for abusive, serial retail offenders

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    Independent convenience retailers from across the country today (10) welcomed the “fresh new teeth” granted to police and law enforcement authorities to tackle rising retail crime under which assaulting a shopworker will be made a standalone offence.

    Under tough new action to crack down on retail crime, assaulting a retail worker will be made a standalone criminal offence, sending a clear message that there will be tough consequences for this unacceptable behaviour. 

    Exclusive: Indie retailers welcome tougher laws for abusive, serial retail offenders
    Retailer Dave Hiscutt

    Reacting to the move, leading independent retailers have expressed joy and relief.

    Multi-estate retailer Dave Hiscutt told Asian Trader, “This new legislation has been a long time coming and is very welcome. Hopefully officers in all forces are briefed fully on the new legislation early on so the full force of the law can be used to protect our teams, customers and us.

    “It’s great to see the police being given some ‘fresh new teeth’ to enable them to deal with our issues more robustly as this has always been the circle we fall into and causes frustration for both us and officers I’ve dealt with.”

    Under new laws, perpetrators could be sent to prison for up to six months, receive an unlimited fine and be banned from going back to the shop where they committed their crimes, with Criminal Behaviour Orders barring them visiting specific premises. 

    Exclusive: Indie retailers welcome tougher laws for abusive, serial retail offenders
    Retailer Trudy Davies

    Retailer Charanjit Singh Binning and Trudy Davies also welcomed the new “tougher laws”.

    Davies, who runs Woosnam & Davies News in Wales, told Asian Trader, “Always good to bolder up laws about retail crimes but we should wait to see if the police force around the country actually put any effort into catching the culprits.”

    Epsom-based Costcutter retailer Sue Nithyanandan told Asian Trader, “This is a good step forward in fighting anti-social behaviour in shops. Shoplifting too should carry mandatory sentences, only then business owners and their employees will be able to carry out their duties without any losses and intimidation.”

    West Yorkshire-based retailer Bobby Singh, owner of BB Nevison Superstore in Pontefract, said, “This is good. I hope this is not just words and actually actions are carried out. It is only then the law will be taken seriously.”

    Exclusive: Indie retailers welcome tougher laws for abusive, serial retail offenders
    Retailer Bobby Singh

    The move to create the new offence follows longstanding campaigning on this issue from Matt Vickers MP, and some of the biggest retailers as well as trade bodies, calling for more action to better protect their staff. 

    The government is also stepping up action to clamp down on offenders who repeatedly target the country’s high streets, with serial offenders forced to wear tags to track their movements. 

    These tags will be a constant and physical reminder to offenders that the Probation Service can find out where they have been and when, and that they risk being sent to prison if they refuse to obey the rules. Under an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill, if an offender is found guilty of assaulting staff three times, or is sentenced for shoplifting on three separate occasions, they should be made to wear a tag as part of any community order.

    Ahead of this legislation coming in, the government will partner with a police force to pilot a bespoke package of community sentencing measures which can be used by judges to tackle high levels of shoplifting, sending a clear message that repeat criminality will not be tolerated.

    The government is also ramping up the use of facial recognition technology to help catch perpetrators and prevent shoplifting in the first place. Backed by a £55.5m investment over the next four years, the police will be able to further roll this new state of the art technology. This will include £4m for bespoke mobile units that can be deployed to high streets across the country with live facial recognition used in crowded areas to identify people wanted by the police – including repeat shoplifters.

    Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said, “I am sending a message to those criminals – whether they are serious organised criminal gangs, repeat offenders or opportunistic thieves – who think they can get away with stealing from these local businesses or abusing shopworkers, enough is enough.

    “Our local shops are the lifeblood of our communities, and they must be free to trade without the threat of crime or abuse.”

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