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Low-level Crimes

Volume 667: debated on Monday 28 October 2019

We expect all crimes reported to the police to be investigated appropriately. Chief constables and police and crime commissioners are responsible for ensuring that cases are investigated properly. Together with the Crown Prosecution Service, they must make sure that charges are brought in cases where there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to do so.

I thank the Minister for that answer, but section 176 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 makes theft from a shop of goods worth £200 or less a summary-only offence. According to the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, shoplifting crime has increased since then. Will the Minister have a look at what is going on and what can be done to reduce retail theft?

My hon. Friend has been a persistent champion for those in the retail trade who are subject to crime. I will be more than happy to look at the point that he raises—not least because if the data shows that there is a problem, we have to do something about it.

I would just say to my hon. Friend that when Westfield shopping centre opened in west London, there was a concern about crime. I recommended that all employers there gave time off to some of their shop staff so that they could become special constables, on the basis that there would then always be a police officer on duty.

I am sure the hon. Member for Tewkesbury (Mr Robertson) is greatly gratified to know that he is not merely a champion, but a persistent one at that.

It feels, unfortunately, as though the police and the Crown Prosecution Service still think that an assault on an emergency worker is a low-level crime and that, frankly, magistrates often say, “Well, a little bit of violence is just in the way of doing your job.” Surely, we must reverse this trend. When there is an assault on an emergency worker, it is an assault on us all.

I think that the hon. Gentleman speaks for us all. In my view, anyone who raises a hand in malice against an emergency worker should face the severest possible penalties.