A commission set up by the Conservative Party has recommended the Tories take a tough stance on retail crime and is aiming for the proposals to form part of the
party’s policy in the run-up to the general election.

The Retail Crime Commission’s chair, Conservative MP Philip Dunne – who is the former chairman of bookseller Ottakar’s – is hopeful its recommendations will form part of the “policy mix for the party’s manifesto for the next general election”.

Key proposals include the need to tackle retail crime at a local level, as well as punishments that more readily reflect the crime, such as community service or custodial sentences, as opposed to Fixed Penalty Notices, which the commission said should only be used for first time offences.

The commission, which includes British Retail Consortium (BRC) director-general Stephen Robertson, Sainsbury’s head of corporate security Phillip Hagon and Alliance Boots public policy manager Andrew Godfrey, reported its findings to the shadow minister for crime reduction James Brokenshire on Wednesday, at Portcullis House.

Dunne said: “I am quietly confident these recommendations will be taken seriously so retailers can have more confidence in the system to combat retail crime, which is at record levels at the moment.

“We’ve seen the priority given to this issue steadily reduce by the present Government in the past 12 years. We wish to raise the awareness of retail crime in a way that hasn’t been done by the Government and we need to encourage local solutions and spread best practice. It’s a burning issue.”

Dunne highlighted the “many social ills funded by retail crime”, including drug abuse and organised crime. BRC figures show that the estimated cost of crime to retail in 2007/08 was more than £1bn.

Robertson said the BRC welcomes the commission’s recommendations and the “recognition that retail crime needs tackling urgently and comprehensively”.

But the Government also reiterated its commitment to tackling retail crime. Home Office Minister Alan Campbell said: “The Government is committed to working with industry and police to tackle the crimes that affect them.”

The commission was established by Conservative Business Relations last year and will be holding a fringe meeting at the Tory Party Conference in Manchester.