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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 03 March 2007

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Soft on shoplifters

“SUPPORT for a reduction in the toughest penalty for shoplifting, from a custodial sentence to a high-level community order, reinforces the perception that shoplifting is a ‘victimless’ crime…”  Douglas Greenwell, Sales & Marketing Director of G4S Security Services (UK)

47% of Britons back lighter sentences for shoplifters according to research by G4S Security Services (UK). Over 17.5 million Britons aged 16-64 agree with the sentencing advisory panel’s recommendation that the toughest penalty for shop-lifting should be a high-level community service order rather than a custodial sentence.

G4S believes that Briton’s permissive attitude to the punishment of shoplifters is reflected in their view of the ethics of the sale and purchase of shoplifted merchandise. Just 35% Britons would report someone to the police who they believed was selling goods that had been shoplifted. Those aged 35 years and over are the most likely to report someone to the authorities, with 40% saying they would take action. However, this figure falls to just 26% for those aged 16-34 years old.

Greenwell continues:- “There appears to be a worrying softening in attitudes towards shoplifting in Britain and the penalties for offenders. Support for a reduction in the toughest penalty for shoplifting, from a custodial sentence to a high-level community order, reinforces the perception that shoplifting is a ‘victimless’ crime that is not worthy of a significant penalty. This sends the wrong message to shoplifters and will make it increasingly difficult for those seeking to tackle the problem.”

26% of Britons would purchase an item they suspected had been shoplifted if the price was sufficiently attractive. Those aged 16-24 are the most likely to put moral concerns aside in pursuit of a bargain, with 2.5 million of those aged 16-24 (40%) saying they would purchase an item they suspected had been stolen from a shop if the price was right. G4S’ research reveals that Britons are willing to take a complicit role in the cycle of shoplifting if the price is sufficiently attractive.

Nigel Evans MP, Ribble Valley, said:- “While prison overcrowding is an obvious issue, it is self-defeating to inform criminals that the highest level punishment for shoplifting is a community service order rather than a custodial sentence. Removing the deterrent of a jail sentence may be perceived as providing a ‘green light’ for shoplifters. However, it is not just the penalties for this crime that need to be addressed. It is important we look at the causes of shoplifting, such as drug abuse which lead people to steal to fund their habit. A wider debate about both the causes and punishment for shop lifters is to be welcomed.”

People living in the North West of England are the least likely to put aside ethical considerations in pursuit of a bargain. In Greater London and Wales & West of England 32% of adults would purchase merchandise if the price was sufficiently attractive even if they thought it had been shoplifted. This compares to 19% of 16-64 year olds living in the North West.

Londoners are the least likely to report those selling suspected stolen merchandise to the police, with 29% of adults prepared to report the suspected offence compared to 42% of those living in the North West.

Douglas Greenwell continues:- “Faced with increased online competition, retailers can ill afford the costs of retail shrinkage through shoplifting. It is vital that everything possible is done to prevent shoplifting, which is a major drain on resources and results in significant lost revenues. Retailers not only lose stock from shoplifting, but also incur lost sales as criminals sell the goods on to someone that would otherwise have purchased the item legitimately. The costs of shrinkage are ultimately felt by all consumers in the price they pay for their goods. It is in the public interest for this scourge of the retail sector to be discouraged as far as possible.”

Local Ship wins title of 2007 "Best Home Produced Beef"

THE shop is situated on their farm and is a traditional good old fashioned butchers shop with oak beams and sandstone floors. Mark has lived there all his life has been working with animals for over twenty years. Originally Mark farmed pigs and was awarded the prestigious Meat & Livestock Commissions National Pig Award in the year 2000, since then due to the demise of the UK pig industry he changed direction towards producing some of the best beef in the area. With Mark producing the beef and his wife Diane running the buthchers’ shop they obviously make a great team and their hard work was recently rewarded with this 1st Prize form North West Fine Foods, ALL 4 judges gave them 12/12 with comments like “melts in the mouth”..”Wow”…and ”cuts like butter”. Check out their website for further information.

Mark & Diane Edwards of The Worrall House Farm Larder last week won The North West Fine Foods:- "Best Home Produced Beef category".


AS many as 39% of British smokers are planning to give up smoking when it is banned in public places in England on 1st July 2007, according to research from Benenden Healthcare Society. This amounts to 3.8m smokers trying to give up, out of a national total of 11.7m addicts; a substantially higher figure than the 2.8m smokers the Government predicted would give up when it announced its intention to introduce a smoking ban, back in February 2006. 

And it is predominantly younger male smokers who will stub out the smoking habit, the research shows. Around 45% of male smokers are planning to give up compared with 30% of women.  A majority of 18 to 24 year old smokers plan to quit compared with 37% of 25 to 34 year olds and only 27% of 55 to 64 year olds. And the table below shows the picture across the country.

Region % planning on giving up when ban comes into effect
Yorkshire & Humberside 66
Scotland 42
East Midlands & East Anglia 41
South East 39
London 35
North 34
South West & Wales 30
West Midlands 27

Regional differences are very marked, with 2/3rds of smokers in the Yorkshire and Humberside region planning to give up, compared with just 1/3rd in London and the North. In fact, well over twice as many Yorkshire and Humberside smokers are giving up compared with those in the West Midlands or in Wales and the South West, the survey suggests.

Interestingly, many smokers in Scotland said the ban coming into effect in England would still motivate them to try to give up – perhaps due to the wider media coverage given to the final part of the UK-wide ban. Scotland’s smoking ban was enforced from March 2006. Wales and Northern Ireland’s ban is starting in April 2007, three months before England’s.

Jakki Stubbington of Benenden Healthcare said:- “The smoking ban is clearly going to have a substantial effect on people’s smoking habits, and the results of our survey suggest that, over the medium to long term, it will make a major dent in the rates of cancer in the UK. Smokers are using the forthcoming ban as the perfect motivation to finally give up.”

Letters to editor:- "Defend Council Housing"

"VERY late in the day Defend Council Housing has received calls and emails from tenants wanting to fight the stock transfer of 16,000 Liverpool Council homes. The ballot starts Monday 5 March 2007.

Unlike the council we can’t employ consultants and spend hundreds of thousands of pounds of tenants’ money putting a pro privatisation message across. There’s an advert running in the Echo on Monday sponsored by T&G and Amicus (PDF Files 1. 2. 3.) and we hope to get a few leaflets out.

I hope that you will be covering the story and that you will be prepared to put both sides of the argument. Up to now tenants have been inundated with just one side of the debate.

I’ve attached our leaflet and two recent DCH pamphlets which demonstrate that the national campaign for the ‘Fourth Option’ of direct investment is gathering serious support. Ministers are clearly under real pressure. They might be saying, as Liverpool council material points out, that ‘there is no fourth option’ but most pundits expect that they will be forced to concede – the question is how many tenants get transferred in the meantime!

There’s plenty of background on the DCH website, including support from MPs for the current EDM Funding Decent Council Housing EDM Funding Decent Council Housing  (including Peter Kilfoyle and Bob Wareing) and the launch of our ‘Dear Gordon’ pamphlet at Parliament last week. There’s also the significance of the recent Hills Review of  Role of Social Housing  (Ruth Kelly calling for an end to life long secure tenancies) and the Cave Review which looks likely to deregulate ‘social housing’. I am sure Liverpool tenants don’t know much about either but there is a strong argument that nearly 3 million council tenants across the UK will be in a much better position to defend our rights than tenants carved up between competing private landlords!"
Alan Walter, Chair. Defend Council Housing.

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