Search Legislation

Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014

Low-value shop theft

95.The police are empowered to prosecute directly a number of uncontested, low level cases without the involvement of the CPS, and a best practice model for police-led prosecutions is being implemented in a number of pathfinder areas. Police-led prosecutions are designed to be a simpler and more proportionate response to high-volume, low-level offences where the case is uncontested, increasing police discretion to tackle crime in their area, freeing up CPS resource to focus on more complex cases and generating efficiencies in the criminal justice system. On 16 May 2012, as part of the Government’s commitment to improve the efficiency of the criminal justice system, the Home Secretary announced her intention in a Written Ministerial Statement to simplify and extend the police-led prosecutions model (House of Commons, Official Report, column 36WS; House of Lords, Official Report, column WS37).

96.Shop theft is a high-volume crime that causes significant harm in local communities. Under current law the police may choose to deal with such offences by means of a Penalty Notice for Disorder,(44) where this is deemed appropriate. However, approximately 80,000 cases of shop theft come to court each year and the fact that the vast majority of these are dealt with in magistrates’ courts (where most cases result in a guilty plea) makes shop theft a suitable offence for the simpler, more proportionate police-led process. In addition, the value of goods stolen is typically low. Research into shop theft in 2006(45) showed that the median value of goods stolen was £40, and that 90% of cases involved property worth less than £200. Shop theft has, therefore, been identified as a suitable offence for police-led prosecutions. However, the police-led model is designed for summary-only offences, that is, cases that are dealt with in the magistrates’ courts rather than the Crown Courts. In order to extend the benefits of this simpler, police-led model to uncontested cases of low-value shop theft, section 176 enables minor offences of shoplifting in England and Wales to be treated as summary only for most purposes.


A Penalty Notice for Disorder (“PND”) is a type of fixed penalty notice that can be issued for a specified range of minor disorder offences, introduced in the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001. An “upper tier” PND (attracting a £90 penalty) may be issued for theft from a shop (section 1 of the Theft Act 1968) where the goods stolen are below the value of £100. Although a penalty notice is not a conviction it will be recorded in police records and may be disclosed under an enhanced criminal records check.

Back to top


Print Options


Explanatory Notes

Text created by the government department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Public Acts except Appropriation, Consolidated Fund, Finance and Consolidation Acts.


More Resources

Access essential accompanying documents and information for this legislation item from this tab. Dependent on the legislation item being viewed this may include:

  • the original print PDF of the as enacted version that was used for the print copy
  • lists of changes made by and/or affecting this legislation item
  • confers power and blanket amendment details
  • all formats of all associated documents
  • correction slips
  • links to related legislation and further information resources