Support for new way of handling shoplifters

Dave Newman, owner of two shops on the West Hill
Dave Newman, owner of two shops on the West Hill

AN ALTERNATIVE way of dealing with crime that emphasizes community values has received support from a West Hill shopkeeper.

Dave Newman, 58, owns two stores on the West Hill including Westhill Stores in Plynlimmon Road, and has been a shopkeeper for 20 years.

He has had dealings with shoplifters in the past, where the offenders were taken away and cautioned by police, but he says that in some cases community resolution is much more beneficial to both the victim and the criminal.

He said: “Often when shoplifters are caught, police take them away and that is the end of it. As a shopkeeper, you never feel satisfied.”

After a recent incident where a teenage boy with no previous convictions stole beer worth £20 from Mr Newman’s shop, the police decided - with Mr Newman’s agreement - that community resolution would be the best way of dealing with the situation.

He sat down with the boy and one of his parents for an hour and discussed the incident.

The boy also agreed to pay for the beer that he had stolen, and work in the shop for a morning.

Mr Newman said: “He was getting a far better lesson than he would have got through the caution system.

“I found it satisfying to get an opportunity to express my feelings. There is a chance he took it on board, and I feel that I achieved something.

“If a similar situation arose again, where this was identified as an option, I would definitely go down the community resolution route.”

Since the initiative was introduced by Sussex Police in January of this year, around 750 offenders have entered into community resolution agreements with the victims of their crimes.

Elize Shult, community resolution co-ordinator for East Sussex said: “Making offenders understand the consequences of what they’ve done significantly reduces the chances of them committing further offences, compared to those who are dealt with through the courts.”