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    Stop treating shoplifting as minor crime, says Cleverly

    Britain's Home Secretary James Cleverly (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

    The Home Secretary James Cleverly has asked police to stop treating shoplifting as a minor crime after rates hit a record high of nearly 1,200 offences a day.

    According to the data released by Office for National Statistics (ONS), a total of 430,104 shoplifting offences were logged by police last year – up 37 per cent on 2022 and the highest number since records began more than 20 years ago.

    Reacting to the figures, Cleverly said he expected police to pursue every reasonable line of inquiry.

    “There is no such thing as a sub-threshold crime. Crime is crime – it’s black and white. Criminal activity should be policed,” he said. “Crimes that people see have a corrosive effect on their confidence, and a lack of confidence to be able to live your full life is really important.

    “When people see videos of shops being robbed, that has a corrosive effect – so we have to deal with it, which is why we’ve made it absolutely clear they [police] will pursue every reasonable line of inquiry.”

    The ONS data follows the last release of figures from the Crime Survey for England in Wales in October 2023, which showed a 25 per cent increase in theft on the previous year.

    Data from ACS’ Voice of Local Shops Survey which tracks levels of theft in the convenience sector also conclude that theft has been increasing every quarter since mid-2021, reaching new record highs toward the end of 2023 and then breaking that record in the first quarter of 2024. The ACS Crime Report estimates that convenience retailers have recorded over 5.6million incidents of theft over the last year.

     Meanwhile, criminal defence lawyer and partner at Berris Law LLP Julian Hayes stated that the investigation of these so-called minor offences have long since been neglected and ignored.

    “The police cannot be blamed for this as they, much like the rest of the criminal justice system are on their knees. The cost to the high street is immeasurable and causing shops and businesses to close or restrict access to customers, not to mention the horrendous risks that members of staff have to take when challenging shoplifters.

    “There must now be a root and branch review of all within in the criminal justice system and more money put in to ensure that this and everything else that is wrong with this is rectified and the funding has long since been denied comes without further question or delay.”

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