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July 16 2009
Fixed penalty notices should only be used to deal with first-time shoplifters and should not be issued to persistent offenders.
Reacting to new guidance issued today (Thursday) by the Justice Secretary Jack Straw, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) welcomed the retention of fixed penalty notices and the improved guidance for their use - but said more safeguards should be put in place.
To ensure the notices are only used for first-time offenders, the BRC wants the police to correctly identify the offender and record these results on their national computer.
Stephen Robertson, BRC Director General, said: "Fixed penalty notices are appropriate in some circumstances. It's right they have been retained and the rules regarding their use clarified.
"As we told Jack Straw, retailers are still seriously concerned that penalty notices are being issued far too widely. They should only be used for first-time shoplifters - not repeat offenders.
"The police need to check the identity of the shoplifter at the time of issuing the penalty notice and make sure it's actually recorded on their national database - so details of offences are available to all forces.
"There also needs to be stricter enforcement so fines are actually paid. As with the Child Support Agency, money could be removed from offenders' salaries to guarantee fines are not avoided."