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    ‘Most Brits support tougher penalties for retail crime’

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    A good majority of Brits are calling on to the police to get tough to tackle the scourge of shoplifting, shows a recent survey, suggesting that people are increasingly concerned about crime in their local area.

    According to a poll done by Mirror, the majority (55 per cent) support tougher penalties for those convicted of shoplifting. More than half (55 per cent) believe there is not enough of a police presence where they live.

    The Redfield & Wilton survey, conducted the publication, found 64 per cent of respondents in England and Wales would support an increase in the number of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs). Some 54 per cent say they are more concerned about a crime being committed against them in their local area than they were five years ago.

    Almost two thirds (63 per cent) think there is now more shoplifting where they live compared with five years ago with 69 per cent believing there has been an increase nationally.

    Shopkeepers and retail bosses have been calling for the police and the courts to do more to protect staff and bring prosecutions after almost nine in 10 convenience store staff said thieves had verbally abused them. Shoplifting is estimated to cost retailers almost £ 1billion a year.

    The British Retail Consortium said there were around eight million incidents in the 12 months to March. Police recorded 339,206 cases, with just 48,218 of these incidents resulting in charges. Workers say some crooks pull items from shelves in front of them and return to steal more, as they believe they can get away with it.

    Shoplifting does not automatically lead to jail time. If the goods are worth less than £200, the maximum sentence is six months in prison but this is usually handled by issuing a postal fine of £70. Stealing items valued at £200 or more can lead to a maximum sentence of seven years.

    Meanwhile, the shoplifting and increasing level of retail crime seem to be taking a political shape. Keir Starmer has said that if he gets into power he will bring back local patrols with 13,000 extra officers and PCSOs. Labour has pledged that stronger sentences will be given to repeat offenders to make it clear that shoplifting is not a low-level crime and will not be tolerated.

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