HC Deb 01 March 1973 vol 851 cc1688-9
13. Mr. Adley

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the progress of his Department's internal review on shoplifting.

Mr. Carlisle

The working party is expected to report within the next few months.

Mr. Adley

I do not wish in any way to exonerate the large number of dishonest people who are active in supermarkets. However, does my hon. and learned Friend not agree that those who introduce a system of shopping, or whatever, which results in an increase in crime must bear some responsibility as accessories towards paying for the cost of trying to reduce this crime?

Mr. Carlisle

I do not accept that they bear responsibility as accessories. What I concede—and what I have always conceded—is that modern methods of shopping and the way in which goods are displayed undoubtedly offer greater temptation.

Mr. Greville Janner

Is it not right that a substantial proportion of those who are charged with shoplifting and whose cases come before juries are acquitted? Is there not an intolerable risk that the innocent will be charged and that they will become ill with anxiety long before they are acquitted?

Mr. Carlisle

I do not think that there is any evidence that the innocent are more likely to risk prosecution for shoplifting than for other offences. It is true that the proportion of those acquitted by a jury is quite high, but my recollection is that it is not very much higher than the average for other offences.

Mr. Kilfedder

Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that there are many prosecutions for shoplifting as a result of determination on the part of hops where shop detectives, either because of zeal or from pressure from the management, push into court cases which should never go there in the first place?

Mr. Carlisle

One must keep a sense of proportion. I have always accepted that there is concern about the possibility of people being wrongly accused of shoplifting. Equally, one has to bear in mind that a substantial volume of goods are being stolen from shops. Dishonesty of all kinds must be dealt with. Therefore, the shops have a responsibility to take what steps they can—including preventive measures—to avoid shoplifting. They are entitled to use their own people to arrest those who are committing this offence.