In the recent King’s Speech, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) expressed its approval of the government’s commitment to addressing serious crime, particularly shop theft.

ACS has called on the government to provide further clarity on how the Sentencing Bill, one of the 21 Bills introduced, will assist retailers dealing with a surge in shop theft.

The Sentencing Bill is a crucial component of the King’s Speech, outlining the government’s determination to impose stricter penalties on serious offenders. This bill also introduces a presumption of suspended sentences for individuals sentenced to 12 months in prison or less.

Retail crime action plan and its impact

Government officials and ministers have been emphasizing their intent to crack down on repeat offenders who target retailers, especially in cases of shop theft and abuse against retailers and their staff.

Last month, the Retail Crime Action Plan was unveiled, outlining priority areas for law enforcement and new methods, including facial recognition and artificial intelligence, to identify offenders effectively.

ACS CEO James Lowman commented on the Sentencing Bill, stating that it does not offer anything groundbreaking for retailers dealing with shop theft. Nevertheless, he welcomed the increased priority placed on theft by more Police and Crime Commissioners.

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Lowman stressed that relying solely on short custodial sentences for crimes such as theft and abuse is not the ideal solution. Instead, he urged the government to employ the measures introduced in the Retail Crime Action Plan to identify repeat offenders and implement appropriate sentences and interventions to break the cycle of reoffending.