The records maintained by the CPS do not identify retail crime separately, but the Office for Criminal Justice Reform says that 72,609 defendants were proceeded against for stealing from shops and stores in 2008. That is the latest figure, which exceeded the figure for the preceding year, which was 67,644.
I thank the Solicitor-General for that reply, but does she share my concern and that of retailers, particularly small shopkeepers and newsagents, about the rising tide of retail crime, including burglaries and shop theft, when a degree of violence is used? What measures does she expect her Department to be able to take to prosecute such cases successfully and to send out a strong message that her Department and the Government generally are dealing seriously with the increase in such crime?
We do take crime very seriously. It is an established principle of sentencing that when a theft or other retail crime is visited upon a small business, the degree of violence is an aggravating factor to take into account, because it can obviously cause more damage. That is a principle that we support entirely. As I said, convictions have increased, and we intend to be vigilant to ensure that they continue to do so.
Will my hon. and learned Friend satisfy herself that the Crown Prosecution Service has not successfully prosecuted cases on the basis of police files that were compiled using evidence illegally obtained by News of the World phone hacking?