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The Federation of Independent Retailers (NFRN) has reacted with anger and dismay over a police chief’s suggestion that persistent shoplifters should be spared jail and victims should pay for their rehabilitation.

Hampshire police and crime commissioner Donna Jones believes short jail sentences for “low–level” criminals with drug addictions do not work and that prison should be reserved for more serious violent and sex offenders.

NFRN National President Stuart Reddish said: “As Miss Jones is the national lead for victims within the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, I find her views and comments utterly bewildering and completely out of touch with reality.

“Following the latest elections in May 2021, our political engagement team and members have been meeting with police and crime commissioners across the country to urge them to include tackling retail crime in their five-year crime plans.

“The response so far has been positive, but the opinions expressed by Miss Jones completely undermine the work we are doing to highlight the scale and seriousness of these offences.

“Apart from the financial impact that shoplifting has on businesses, such incidents often escalate and lead to verbal or physical attacks on shop owners and their staff when the perpetrators are challenged.

“I would like to ask Miss Jones how she would react if someone walked into her home and started helping themselves to her possessions. Would she simply send them on their merry way and offer to foot the bill for some kind of rehabilitation?”

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