New powers could be given to police officers to charge thieves, drug dealers and shoplifters, the Government has announced

Crimes that merit jail sentences up to six months would not go via crown prosecutors if the new recommendations, which are currently being piloted by high performing forces, are adopted.

Zoë Wakefield, Hampshire Police Federation Chair, welcomed the measures – as long as they do actually save officers’ time. She said: “It probably takes us six hours at the moment to deal with a shoplifter and charge them, get them to court.

“You get called to the job, you arrest the person, you take them into custody, book them into custody, you go and take a statement from the shopkeeper or witnesses and look at the CCTV. You then have to go back to the station, interview the prisoner, speak to the custody sergeant who will decide whether or not you can go ahead or whether or not you have to go and get CPS advice. If you’ve got to get CPS advice you can add in another three hours.

“Then you have to charge and release and complete the file and the paperwork. So if this is some new, simpler way of dealing with shoplifting, it will be very welcome. It will be interesting, and if it does save officers time, that will be great.”

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