Report backs civil recovery for retailers

A NEW civil procedure should be introduced to allow retailers to claim compensation from shoplifters, according to a report published by the Nene Centre for Retail Research in Northampton.

The report on the operation of civil recovery in the US and Canada, published last month, concludes that civil recovery is cheap, convenient and accessible and would be compatible with the Woolf reforms for civil justice.

Professor Joshua Bamfield, author of the report and head of the school of business at Nene College, argues that civil recovery should be adopted in England and Wales. He claims the remedy, which requires a lower standard of proof than a criminal case, would help penalise shoplifters who currently go unpunished and would also act as a deterrent.

Under the proposed scheme the average amount paid by a shoplifter who had stolen goods worth £30 would be £250 to £280, and a staff thief would pay about £570.

The plan has received the backing of Michael Schuck, assistant director of the British Retail Consortium Retail Crime Initiative.

Schuck said that there was an urgent need for a new system in the UK that could administer civil sanctions.

He added: “Those who are caught are quite likely to be fairly experienced and to regard the minor penalties imposed by courts as an overhead or an operating cost.”