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City MP backs plans to crack down on soaring shoplifting rates

By 24 April 2024May 29th, 2024No Comments
Photo © of Stephen Morgan MP

Stephen Morgan MP has been pressing ahead with his campaign against shoplifting, backing plans to crack down on theft as rates continue to soar in Portsmouth and across the country.

According to data released in February by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the trade body representing retail businesses in the UK, incidents of customer theft have risen to a record 16.7 million, up from 8 million the previous year.

The BRC estimates the cost to retailers last year of this shoplifting epidemic was £1.8bn, up from £950mn and the highest amount on record.

The impact on shop workers has been clear with incidents of violence and abuse of shop workers soaring by 50% over the past year. The BRC estimates a staggering 1,300 incidents each day last year of racial abuse, sexual harassment, physical assaults and threats with weapons.

The City MP regularly speaks with shopworkers in Portsmouth and undertakes visits with USDAW the shopworkers union to discuss experiences on the frontline of this surge in shoplifting and violence, hosting roundtables with retail staff to hear concerns from traders operating in the area.

The City MP backs Labour’s plan to tackle soaring rates of shop lifting by reversing the decision by the Conservative Government in the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 to downgrade the police response to the theft of items worth less than £200.

Under the 2014 Act, any incidents involving goods below £200 would have to be tried as ‘summary only offences’. This has led to many defendants being able to plead guilty by post and pay a small fine – thereby avoiding a court appearance.

In practice, it has acted as a signal to the police to deprioritise any enforcement for shoplifting of goods below £200 at all – even in cases of repeat and organised shoplifting – with arrests for theft offences falling from 136,000 in 2018 to just 78,000 in 2022.

More widely, Labour have pledged to tackle crime across England and Wales by reintroducing neighbourhood policing with 13,000 more police and PCSOs on the streets, including a named officer to lead on tackling anti-social behaviour.

Commenting, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“Under the Tories too many communities and high streets are being blighted by staggering increases in shoplifting, up 30 per cent in the last year alone.

“The Conservative government has decimated neighbourhood policing, leaving our town centres unprotected, and introduced a rule meaning that shoplifting of goods under £200 isn’t being investigated. This Tory ‘Shoplifter’s Charter’ has left local businesses and retail workers at the mercy of criminals.

“Enough is enough. Labour called for tougher action on criminals who assault shopworkers and only in the past month did the Government finally act. The Tories should follow Labour’s lead again and remove the £200 rule that is letting shoplifters off the hook”.

Mr Morgan has taken a range of actions to lobby the Government to take action to tackle shoplifting, as well as raising concerns on the parliamentary floor, meeting with local police and retailers, and campaigning for more bobbies on the beat.