Tougher retail crime laws only a start, says Retail NZ

(Source: Bigstock)

Kiwi retailers said that while they welcome Justice Minister Paul Goldsmith’s recently announced proposed changes to the criminal justice system, they fear these are not enough to combat retail crime.

Among the proposed reforms is introducing a new aggravating factor to address offences against sole charge workers and those whose homes and businesses are interconnected, such as convenience stores.

“This doesn’t go far enough. Almost every retail worker has been affected by crime and aggression, whether they are sole charge or not,” said Carolyn Young, CEO at Retail NZ.

“On a daily basis, retailers of all sizes are dealing with threatening, violent or simply unpleasant customers, who are trying to steal or damage their property.”

According to Retail NZ data, its member retailers lost over $2.6 billion in retail crime last year.

“Our members are telling us that crime is traumatic for them and their staff, whether they are working in a small store alongside one or two others, or in large supermarkets,” said Young.

Other proposed justice reforms are capping the sentence discounts that judges can apply at 40 per cent and preventing repeat discounts for youth and remorse.

The government also proposed to encourage the use of cumulative sentencing for offences committed while on bail, in custody, or on parole and implement a sliding scale for early guilty pleas.

Lastly, the government proposed to amend the principles of sentencing to include a requirement to take into account any information provided to the court about victims’ interests.

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