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Shoplifters should never go to jail, say sentence watchdogs

By STEVE DOUGHTY

 

Last updated at 22:35pm on 24th August 2006

 

Serial shoplifters should never be sent to prison, the Government's advisers on sentencing said.

 

They want judges and magistrates barred from locking up the petty thieves - no matter how many offences they have committed in the past.

 

If their recommendations are adopted, only those who commit violent attacks on staff, work in organised gangs or use children to steal from shops would go to jail.

 

At the moment, the maximum sentence for shoplifting is seven years. The attempt to cut the severity of penalties is being made by the Sentencing Advisory Panel, a Home Office body which provides recommendations on how to deal with offenders.

 

Their plan would mean 13,000 fewer criminals each year would be sent to prisons at a time when jail overcrowding has reached crisis point....

 

The Sentencing Advisory Panel is headed by academic lawyer Martin Wasik, a member of two pressure groups which campaign for fewer criminals to be jailed.

 

Daily Mail

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