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Theft: Fixed Penalties

Volume 493: debated on Monday 8 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will issue guidance to police forces on the distinction between (a) opportunistic and (b) planned theft in the administering of fixed penalty notices. (276906)

I have been asked to reply.

The Government issue operational guidance on the issuing of penalty notices for disorder (PNDs) to police forces under section 6 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001. This guidance sets out the criteria which should be considered by police officers and makes clear that PNDs should not be issued where the offence is too serious and/or it involves aggravating factors, for example, where a theft has been planned.

Following representations from the hon. Lady and retail trades, the guidance covering shoplifting is being revised to clarify further the type of theft offence for which a penalty notice may be suitable. The new guidance will be issued shortly. However, police officers are accustomed to distinguishing different circumstances in which offences are committed, and no specific guidance will be offered on distinguishing between opportunistic and planned theft.

We are also considering the use of PNDs for retail theft and will report our conclusions to the House shortly.