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Maybe supermarkets could be allowed to give shoplifters summary beatings instead, ultimately though criminals have to be punished, if shoplifting is being made not subject to prison sentences then next it will be mugging and burgalry and who knows what else next!

Maybe this is the thin end of the wedge of shoplifting/minor theft being decriminalised. we could certainly do with less cases clogging up the courts.

"we could certainly do with less cases clogging up the courts"

I agree, but shouldn't we achieve this by lowering the level of crime through adequate deterrents, rather than making paying in shops entirely optional and stealing a risk-free crime?

Shoplifting might not cause that much harm to large supermarkets but it can be the bane of many small businesses. It's hardly "minor theft" for them.

Well , minor shops are being put out of business by the big boys anyway , shoplifting is just adding insult to injury. Obviously that ferret faced hoodie whose just nicked a CD of Take That's greatest hits is not a thief with an appalling taste in music but an anti-globalisation activist keeping it real for the kids and sticking up two fingers to the forces of conformity , homogeneity and 'the man.' Radical

Central government should allow local councils to decide their own forms of non-custodial punishments for shop-lifting.

Street crime is running out of control. It's time for some respect to be returned, and that means punishments that crominals fear. I agree with the BNP's policy of the return of corporal punishment.

We were caned at school for such crimes as 'talking in prayers' or 'leaving sports kit out of a locker'. Why we are unable to cane people who steal seems incredible to me.

I am for zero tolerance; it seems to have worked in some places why not expand the experiment?

This idea seems to be heading in the wrong direction. What message are we sending to children? Theft is not serious?

I don't support summary justice though. Everbody has the right to a fair hearing.

The crux of his argument was that government should not be setting straightjacket rules like this to judges. Courts should be able to decide what sentences to give - not zero tolerance.

So in an ideal world young drug addicts, say from a care home background, could be offered a choice between rehab and jail and at the other end of the scale those that steal for pure criminal gain could be sentenced. Of course its all irrelvant if a judge can't send repeat offenders to jail if there is no space for them - we have to build more, and more prisons that rehabilitate.

I'm really encouraged the party is talking in this sort of constructive way about 'low level' crime. Certainly better than the "hang 'em and flog 'em" morons above.

By zero tolerance I mean all shoplifters should know that their behaviour will not be tolerated and there are consequences; may not not always mean jail but that option should remain open to judges

If shoplifting appears to be downgraded - it is theft whatever way your look at it- we are on a slippery slope.

Anti social behaviour orders are rising rapidly as a way of dealing with people who have lost the sense of what is and is not acceptable behaviour.

Is it messages like this from the Government that erode the sense of right and wrong?

Retail crime does impact on everyone - not just small retailers. The figures for individual retailers as to its cost are phenomenol and speaking in a purely personal capacity I think suggesting removing the threat of custodial sentences is plain daft!! Hmmm lets see - I can go and pinch lots of stuff and whats the deterrent?

This is the old socialist dogma of society failing the criminal.
The five fingered discount affects everyone, particularly the honest as the cost of shoplifting is passed on to the consumer.
This proposal sends out the wrong message.
Serial shoplifters should be jailed. They are in the main feeding a drug addiction and should be forcibly de-toxed in jail and not released until they are clean. NuLab will have to put monies into the prison system to promote de-tox, in the long run it will pay back the investment with lower crime figures.
So much, yet again, for ST Tony of B-Liar's message about being tough on crime.

The law-abiding majority pay for shoplifting criminals; losses are passed on to everybody else in the form of higher prices. (Hence perhaps one reason why the most stolen consumer item; razor blades are so expensive). Shoplifting is a crime like any other; first time offenders should perhaps be treated leniently but repeat, serial offenders must be jailed. So called minor crimes do matter and reducing them is important, a proven and effective way of reducing crime is jailing repeat offenders – three strikes laws in America keeping repeat offenders locked up have shown sharp reductions in crime.

Certainly better than the "hang 'em and flog 'em" morons above, Zhukov.

are we the 'morons' - or the criminologists who removed the fear of punishment in the first place? in the current time of PC, we are bound to be painted as the morons, but over the fullness of time, I think that fear of punishment will have to come back. I don't mind being the 'moron' who first suggested it.

If the only argument against reintroducing corporal punishment is name-calling, I feel encouraged that it would be a good idea. It would be a lot cheaper and quicker than any alternatives, and I would suspect highly effective in 90% of cases.

Tapestry - aside from the fact you "agree with the BNP policy" on this issue which is frightning enough;

The idea of state sanctioned "beaters" physically punishing criminals is disturbing. What kind of sadist would want to do this job? Prisoners being beaten in cells is something that, sadly, goes on in third world countries - not in the UK.

If someone breaks the law the main aim of society should be to rehabilitate them - not purely punish. It is entirely possible for a civilised society to do this - Labour have cocked it up - what Edward Garnier was suggesting on the radio was extremely sensible.


I happen to agree with the return of corporal punishment but I don't feel the need to point out it's a BNP policy.

Zhukov, you may find the idea disturbing but corporal punishment but an opinion poll on it a few years ago put support at around 50-50. Are half the British population "disturbing"?

Remove the "but corporal punishment" from the first line of my second paragraph above. Typo error.

When I was a boy (dim distant times before the 60's) we had a neighbour who was a Prison Governor. He said that there was little worse about the job than organising and watching corporal punishment of prisoners - leagl court enforced punishment.

I've always thought we should look at public humiliation would an effective punishment - but problem there is suicides and self harm by people who fear the exposure.

Theft, as with all offences of dishonesty should be punished severely. These proposals are an absolute disgrace, and we should oppose them all the way. Take it from someone who knows, most shoplifters are persistent and have previous convictions running into several pages. All are usually cautioned for their first offence (which must be admitted), many will have several cautions having been "warned" or "reprimanded" as a juvenile. Not to mention the countless cases CPS will not run because the evidence is not 100% certain - which it must be for such a "minor crime" to be worth prosecuting. Many thefts are not even bothered with because the value of the stolen property is considered trivial.
I would argue that theft can never be trivial because it involves conduct of such immorality (in general), but the poultry sentences handed out only encourage it.
I personally believe in one second chance for offenders, perhaps probation. But a second offence should mean double the severity of sentence. The third should mean three times, and so on.
Incidentally, I work in law enforcement and I have in years only seen 1 shoplifter get prison. That was a 3 month term, served one, hardly worth it!

I find that half of the UK population want criminals beaten disturbing. I don't actually believe that to be the case - especially if the realities of inflicting physical pain on criminals was described. It just reminds me of terrible stories from Soviet or Thai jails.

This thread is getting diverted into an argument about "hang em and flog em" and anyway I'm off home for the bank holiday weekend - woo hoo!

I didn't know what Edward Garnier MP looked like - thanks for printing the picture at the top.

"but problem there is suicides and self harm by people who fear the exposure."

Dare I suggest that maybe people should think about that before breaking the law?

"I find that half of the UK population want criminals beaten disturbing. I don't actually believe that to be the case"

The survey might have been referring to corporal punishment in schools. Anyhow, I agree that this discussion isn't about hanging and flogging.

Shoplifting is thieft and should be treated as such. We send the young a very bad message if we say one form of thieft is less wrong than another.
The way to stop the young commiting crime is not corporal punishment but making it plain to these kids parents that if there little darlings step out of line not only will the child face consequences but they will as well.

Punishment in prisons was pretty brutal - flogging basically. I would not like to watch a flogging either, Ted.

My grandfather joined the navy at 13, and received 14 strokes from a naval cane -'very good for the memory' he joked. That too sounds a little excessive.

Caning children was commonplace in schools until the 1960's. I agree that it is rightly got rid of for school purposes apart from extreme situations, but if the tide of criminality continues to grow, it is something that should be put in the armoury of the magistrates to establish order, and maybe to teachers and police - at a far lower level of severity than in the past.

Obviously it would not be acceptable to the liberal elite at present, many having studied the bogus science of criminology at university, but after a few more decades of continual social disorder, i believe that it will inevitably return.

I agree that I'm out of era mentioning it, but the stupidity of human nature is such that treating criminals as intelligent beings is I'm afraid a total waste of time in many cases. It is interesting that 50% of Britons alreday support the return of corporal punishment. The wisdom of crowds will ultimately prevail.

Yet again the wrong signals are being sent out. Shoplifting is already a big problem without making it risk free for offenders.

Why do we never hear the words punishment and deterent?

"Incidentally, I work in law enforcement and I have in years only seen 1 shoplifter get prison. That was a 3 month term, served one, hardly worth it!"

I'm a state prosecutor in Florida and so this time I suppose my comments here are a bit more than academic as well. The sheriff's office in my county runs a voluntary diversion program for some kinds of first-time misdemeanor offenders, involving admission of guilt, extensive community sevice hours, full restitution (if applicable, since most time shoplifters are caught the items stolen are recovered) and supervision for three to six months that's essentially the equivalent of probation. Complete the program and the state drops the charge, but you get ONE bite only. A first time if you don't take diversion you'll usually get a withhold of adjudication and have to pay court costs and restitution to the victim. A second could get you jail and/or probation. A third will almost definitelky get you a serious jail sentence, and under Florida law, a fourth or subsequent petit theft (under $300 value stolen) can be charged as felony petit theft, with a sentence of up to five years in state prison.

For Richard Cooke 25/8 at 17.43.
Your mention of "poultry sentences" set me thinking. Good idea. You put them in the stocks on the village green, then you throw eggs at them. Geddit?? Sorry, that was mean of me. The word is "paltry" worthless. Insignificant.

"The maximum sentence for shoplifting is currently seven years but an advisory panel to the Home Office has recommended ending the practice of jailing offenders."

Fixed fines of £80 are already the standard penalty for shoplifting in many constabularies. This entirely uneffective as either a punishment or deterrant. Many of our area's shoplifters drug addicts who are on benefits and cannot pay the fine. It is then deducted from future benefit payments. They then secure crisis loans from the local authority or turn to theft to cover the benefit shortfall.

This is policing at its most pointless. Such "punishments" do nothing to deter, nothint to rehabilitate and nothing to punish.

We badly need more prison spaces, more programmes to get young people off drugs, so they no longer need to steal to fund their addictions, and a criminal justice system that doesn't fail the public.

Shoplifting is dishonest, are we now to believe that some kinds of dishonesty don't matter? Just because there aren't enough prison places, just because a certain person in the Treasury refuses pointblank to finance some urgently needed projects, while apparently being quite willing to waste vast sums on stupid projects that fall by the wayside!

So as the level of crime increases, and prison places become even more scarce, what will the next kind of crime that we will be instructed is no longer to be considered as a crime?????

I recall reading something in one of W S Churchill's books along the lines of

"Those who will not be constrained by love must be chained by fear".

I cannot find any reference to such a quotation, nor can I recall whether those were his own words or a quotation of someone else's words. Be that as it may, whoever wrote them obviously had a far greater understanding of human sinfulness and the need to put fear into the hearts of wrongdoers than the clever devils (in the the late David Lloyd George's words) who now occupy positions of power and throughout this country, the Council of Europe and the ECHR.

The apotheosis of secular humanism is now found in this: the State excuses persistent wrongdoers, while punishing to the full extent of the law any previously law-abiding person who dares to lift a finger to defend themselves or uphold what is right.

I went out to buy some software yesterday but got there after someone had filched the CD-ROMs from the box leaving the manuals.................maybe if they caught the miscreant and put him in the stocks for the day so we could pelt him with fruit and eggs the humiliation might be a deterrent.

I'm afraid the government's sentencing advisors have got this badly wrong. The message that you can steal as much as you like and as often as you like without fear of being sent to prison is very dangerous indeed. No law is worth the paper it is written on unless it is enforced. I'm not suggesting custodial sentences for every offence, but when you have individuals who target a store or a shopping centre persistently, the law simply has to step in and send out the clear message this is a serious crime and those who persist in it will be sent to prison.

Shoplifters are just felons in the making. I saw we hang the lot of them! That would give those with "sticky fingers" a darn good reason not to 'lift in the first place.

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