Now don't be naughty!

Well that seems to be the message the Government wants to send to potential shoplifters. First they came up with the idea of on teh spot fines – which quite frankly wouldn't deter anyone. You shoplift until your hearts content and then when you do get caught you get a £60 fine. Simple economics seem to indicate that many would regard that as a price worth paying.

Now they have gone one better, the fines will be deferred if the culprit agrees to sign up to an ABC. And what's an ABC – well apparently its an acceptable behaviour contract. It is no wonder Kevin Hawkins Chief of the British Retails Consortium has gone mad about this. And if they break this ABC what do they get – and ASBO. I'm sure these criminals are shaking in their boots.

I worked for a retailer and heard stories of how a handful of criminals accounted for a huge percentage of the theft from a whole town centre location. Then there were incidents like the security guard stabbed with a needle when they were caught.

The simple fact is that stealing is a crime and this Government does nothing to reinforce the respect agenda that it loves to talk about by treating the culprits as naughty little school kids.

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