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Former Spalding police officer welcomes House of Lords inquiry into shoplifting but says tougher sentences are needed

A former police officer has welcomed a public inquiry into shoplifting but feels the real answer to the problem lies with the courts.

Spalding’s Shopwatch co-ordinator Stuart Brotherton has been calling for sometime for the courts to be given stronger powers by the Sentencing Council – which sets the punishments that courts must follow – in order to really clamp down on the problem.

The House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee is looking into shoplifting and quizzed senior police officers on the issue on Tuesday.

Stuart Brotherton is calling for tougher sentences
Stuart Brotherton is calling for tougher sentences

But Mr Brotherton feels that this inquiry will concentrate on travelling organised criminals rather than the opportunitists who are stealing to fund their addictions.

A Freedom of Information request submitted by this website has found that Lincolnshire Police received 138 reports of shoplifting in Spalding between January 1 and September 14, 2023 – compared with 82 reports for the entire previous year.

Officers made 22 arrests during that period and, of those, 15 were repeat offenders.

Mr Brotherton said: “I welcome the inquiry because it means that people at the very top are opening their eyes to that the ‘little minor offence’ of shoplifting which is not as minor as people think.

“It has now reached levels where people are taking it more seriously and everyone having a go at it.

“I think it is worthy of attention and setting up a group at the Lords to look at this is good but it is not going to affects us here in Spalding or Sleaford or most places in Lincolnshire as most of our crime is done by local people with drug or alcohol issues.

“The only people who can sort those issues out are the courts. They are powerless to impose the correct sentences to make them not do it again.

“Until the courts are given powers to impose harsher sentences or look at remedial issues like working with drug and alcohol to make this more effective so people don’t commit crime. They have got to look at that. These people are so entenched with drug and alcohol abuse.”

Mr Brotherton also stressed that shoplifting is not a victimless crime - as the cost affects not only the retailer but the public as well.

What do you think the answer is? Post a comment below…

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