Wiltshire

Prolific shoplifters in Calne to face burglary charge

Police in a Wiltshire village are trying to ensure prolific shoplifters are sent to prison instead of being given community sentences.

Officers in Calne hope that charging offenders with burglary instead of shoplifting will be a better deterrent as it carries a tougher sentence.

They said it meant proving not only theft but trespass as well.

Councillor Chuck Berry said he did not think it would stop those who steal to fund a drug habit.

It is the first time police in the county have tried to do this.

When someone is charged with shoplifting they are banned from the store but the paperwork has, until now, been done by shop staff rather than the police.

'Banning notice'

Sgt Philip Connor, of Calne police, said: "It's very difficult to get evidence that the individual has been banned.

"Historically, a shop will ban an individual and the police aren't involved in that.

"I fully understand that for the Crown Prosecution Service to successfully prosecute someone for the offence of burglary we have to have clear evidence so there's no question of doubt that a particular individual knew that he or she was banned from that store."

He said that in future a police officer or PCSO would serve a notice banning the offender.

Calne North councillor Chuck Berry said he did not think it would deter every shoplifter.

He said: "It will stop those who steal casually, who steal for a dare, who steal to be big with their mates.

"It won't necessarily stop those who steal because they need the money to pay for their next fix.

"Those are the sort of people, once identified, we try to help as a society to bring them back into the mainstream."

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