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Volume 987: debated on Thursday 3 July 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will hold an inquiry into ways of ensuring that fewer innocent people are charged with shoplifting offences.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the overall acquittal rate of nearly 50 per cent. of those charged of shoplifting offences, he will now introduce legislation to equate the law and practice on shoplifting in England and Wales with that in Scotland whereby all prosecutions in this type of offence will be brought by or on behalf of the police and the public and not by retailers or other private citizens.

The subject of private prosecutions is within the terms of reference of the Royal Commission on criminal procedure, which is expected to report later this year, and we shall consider what action, if any is called for, in the light of the report.