This is the nice version of what happens when the state justice system fails and private individuals must step in to fill the void. There is also a less nice version.
It was no surprise to anyone who knew Nicholas Richards, a career criminal with 25 convictions including 18 for shoplifting, that his motives were not entirely honourable when he walked into Boots. Witnesses described him stealing £170-worth of Gucci perfume; CCTV footage recovered from the chemist’s flagship branch in Piccadilly showed him putting the goods in his bag; and cameras worn by private security officers who detained him recorded him admitting the offence.
So staff at Boots, which loses between £10,000 and £12,000 a week to shoplifting, were upset when police officers arrived on the crime scene, decided the case was a “civil” matter and released Richards, who was already on a suspended sentence for theft. Boots was furious about the failure to dispense justice and decided to take part in what is believed to be the first private prosecution for shoplifting supported by a corporate victim.
The case is being brought by TM Eye. Set up by two former Metropolitan police officers, it is the parent company of My Local Bobby (MLB), which provides neighbourhood policing to residents, firms and shops. Its 30 “bobbies,” who wear red vests and caps, provide 24-hour cover. They are mostly former police officers and soldiers.
In the comments following which, a reader adds,
Anyone with 25 previous convictions should not be on our streets.
Some time ago, I suggested, not entirely flippantly, that a “three-strikes-and-we-put-you-out-to-sea-on-a-fucking-raft” policy might be quite popular. Readers are welcome to use the comments below to share alternatives.