James Sunderland highlights the problem of shoplifters operating in organised gangs and calls for tougher measures to act as a deterrent and better protection for retail workers.
Waitrose is based in my constituency, and in recent meetings with the partners and with other supermarkets, it has raised with me the scourge of shoplifting. Organised gangs operating with impunity across the UK are engaging in retail crime. They are often inflicting violence against workers using weapons, and they are costing supermarkets a fortune. Can we do more work on the deterrent effect of greater sentencing, and may I urge the Minister to look at whether the provisions of the Protection of Workers (Retail and Age-restricted Goods and Services) (Scotland) Act 2021 could be rolled out in England too?
Let me make a couple of points. First, increasing the number of police officers means that there is more resource to try to ensure that the people who commit this crime—and it is not a victimless crime, by the way—are brought to book. Secondly, I am proud of the fact that we have doubled the maximum sentence for assault on an emergency worker, so that defendants can be properly punished where they have assaulted police officers, ambulance staff or potentially people who work in supermarkets, though I would query whether they are in scope.