Llanelli MP supports retailers against shoplifting

Dame Nia Griffith, Member of Parliament for Llanelli, has shown her support for retailers, shop workers and local shoppers facing unprecedented levels of shoplifting and violence and backed new proposals to make high streets safer.

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.

Dame Nia has now thrown her weight behind the Labour Party’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 also 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.

Dame Nia Griffith, MP for Llanelli, said:

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

“The Conservative UK government has decimated neighbourhood policing, leaving our town centres vulnerable, including our own here in Llanelli, and shockingly, they’ve brought in a rule meaning that shoplifting of goods under £200 is not being effectively investigated. This Tory ‘Shoplifter’s Charter’ has left many local businesses and retail workers at the mercy of criminals.

“Enough is enough. Along with other Labour MPs, I have long called for tougher action on criminals who assault shopworkers and only in the past month did the Government finally act on that. The Tories should now also follow Labour’s lead again and remove the ‘get away with £200 rule’ that is letting shoplifters off the hook.

“Llanelli and the rest of Britain cannot afford more damaging decline from the Conservatives on crime and justice. Labour will restore the rule of law on Britain’s high streets and in our town centres.”

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