LIGHT-FINGERED: Some shops are banning thieves as they know police will not attend crimes
POLICE officers are so stretched that some shops have given up calling them over shoplifters, and ban the offenders instead, according to the head of the Police Federation.
Police Federation chairman John Apter said some retailers, including high street chains, had accepted the chances of a police attendance to arrest a shoplifter were now so low, it was easier to ban thieves from the premises instead.
The federation has said cuts to officer numbers since the 2010 austerity measures meant the public had to be realistic about what they could expect from forces up and down the country.
CLAIM: Police Federation chairman John Apter says shops have given up on police help
Mr Apter said: “With current resources, we can’t do everything and there are times we are not able to deliver the policing we want.
"Some retailers have realised this and there are a number who now have a policy of banning shoplifters from the store rather than involving police."
Instead of calling police, some shops keep CCTV images of people caught stealing by store detectives on office walls so staff know not to let them back into the branch.
He backed the business decision, saying: "If an officer investigates a shoplifting incident he will be off the streets for a whole day dealing with it.
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"Would it be better if they were dealing with violent crime?
'In some cases people are stealing meat to feed their kids - they arrive at court, are fined, but can't pay. What does that solve?"
But, he said stores would still call police to deal with offenders caught in a particular store or shopping complex three or more times.
"You still have to target prolific offenders," he said
The Met Police and other forces now have crime assessment policies, with guidelines on when to stop investigations.
Incidents with a loss of less than £50 are often dismissed.
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Mr Apter called on service stations being hit by rising fuel thefts to make a collective change that could end the problem.
He said: "This one is simple. Make people pay up front and you stop the problem. But the reason they won't do it is they want customers walking into their stores so they buy other products."