HC Deb 25 January 1979 vol 961 cc655-7
4. Mr. Adley

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied that self-service stores take adequate steps to discourage shoplifting; and what steps he intends to take to persuade them to implement his Department's recommendations in this regard.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Dr. Shirley Summerskill)

I am sure that many self-service and other stores can improve their arrangements for preventing shoplifting. Together with the police we continue to encourage retailers to implement the relevant recommendations of the report "Shoplifting and Thefts by Shop Staff" which was first published in 1973.

Mr. Adley

I thank the Minister for that reply, but is she aware that pilferage by staff is now far higher than theft by customers, and that that will continue in line with the number of self-service stores that open? Is it not about time we in the House recognised that stores which invite the public to help themselves, and thereafter call on society to pay the cost of court and police time, should be encouraged at the very least to bring in the preventive measures about which the hon. Lady has spoken?

Dr. Summerskill

Everything possible is being done by the Home Office, and, I know, by the hon. Gentleman, to encourage retailers to take preventive measures. I am sure that they are aware that many recommendations have been made, which they could carry out.

Mr. Sainsbury

Will the Minister accept that there is no evidence to show that staff pilferage is more widespread than customer pilferage? Does she agree that the regrettable incidence of staff pilferage is by no means confined to self-service stores, and occurs in all forms of retail outlet?

Dr. Summerskill

Whether it is staff or customer pilferage, it is still very serious and should be stopped.

Mr. Skinner

Will my hon. Friend also agree that shoplifting occurs right across all social classes? Will she draw up a list of the ratios and percentages of shoplifting in the various socio-economic groups, so that we can be absolutely sure where the greatest number come from?

Dr. Summerskill

I think that the investigation suggested by my hon. Friend would be of no purpose, except perhaps to give him some satisfaction. I do not think that crime knows any class barriers or boundaries.

Mr. George Rodgers

Is my hon Friend satisfied that the laws, such as they are, that apply to price control at self-service shops have been sufficiently implemented during recent shortages?

Dr. Summerskill

That appears to be another question. Perhaps my hon. Friend will put down a question to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection.