David Lammy’s problem

Shoplifters who steal from large stores such as Fortnum and Mason should get lesser sentences than those who target small retailers, a prominent Labour MP has said.

David Lammy, a contender for Labour’s London mayoral ticket in 2016, said in a new report it was wrong to base punishment for shoplifters – as currently – on the monetary value of the items stolen.

Instead, the former minister said stealing from chains and department stores should be regarded as a less serious crime than pilfering from the corner shop.

In a 52-page study for the think-tank Policy Exchange Mr Lammy said: “The impact of a £150 theft, for example, would be far greater on an independent corner shop than on Fortnum and Mason, yet this is not reflected under the current Act.

“Many rightly argue that the seriousness of shoplifting should not be based on the value, but on the impact to the victim.”

OK, let’s think through this on his terms. Fortnum’s is owned by a charity….well, 90% or so of profits go to charity. So, it’s less appalling to steal from the mouths of babes and sucklings than it is from the petit bourgeois who run the corner shop?

How very Poujadist of him.

32 thoughts on “David Lammy’s problem”

  1. ‘In a 52-page study for the think-tank Policy Exchange…’

    I guess nobody at PE saw that rather infamous episode of ‘Mastermind’ then?

  2. So Much for Subtlety

    I look forward to this logic being applied in rape cases.

    How very Poujadist of him.

    As someone who feels akin to the Poujadists I resent that mildly.

    But it is impressive how much of our past we can throw away without a second thought isn’t it? One of the glories of the Western legal tradition is Equality Before the Law. Even if Fortnum’s were owned by nasty Zionists bankers, they deserve the equal protection of the law. We do not have, in theory, we should not have, in actual fact, a legal system which treats the favoured sons of the ruling class different from the masses.[1]

    Lammy needs to go somewhere without equality before the law and sees how he likes it.

    [1] Yes, I think the Titus Oates conviction was as dubious as dubious can be. But the general point holds.

  3. So Much for Subtlety

    Fortnum’s is owned by a charity….well, 90% or so of profits go to charity.

    Just in passing I have a long list of charities that probably deserve to be stolen from. In fact I think I would struggle to convict anyone who stole from Oxfam or War on Want or the RSPCA or B or the Clinton Foundation. I know they make you swear an oath and all, but it would be a dark night time of the soul before I could vote affirmatively.

    It is a dilemma. Equal protection be damned.

  4. I’m not sure pointing out that fortnums is owned by a major illegal tory donor charity is quite such a zinger! I wonder whether they sent hampers to the people charged with attacking their store (as they did when suffragettes smashed their windows).

    I’m not one to defend labour idiocy but Lammy’s point is sensible enough if you don’t look at it as an economics issue. Punch a boxer in the mouth and they’ll be fine (you might not be). Punch a disabled 94yr old in the mouth with the same force and they’ll probably not be. That doesn’t make punching anyone right but giving the latter a heavier punishment reflects the increased harm.

    It’s also consistent with why those who diddle credulous middle aged ladies out of their life savings get heavier sentences than individuals who bring down major businesses.

  5. “Punch a boxer in the mouth and they’ll be fine (you might not be). Punch a disabled 94yr old in the mouth with the same force and they’ll probably not be. That doesn’t make punching anyone right but giving the latter a heavier punishment reflects the increased harm.”

    We already have this distinction – common assault, ABH, GBH, attempted murder….

  6. Personally I agree prisons should not be cluttered with petty thieves. Stocks are preferable, well supplied w fruit and veg beyond its BBD. Also to reeducate politicians who do not wish to uphold the law and protect the honest people paying their salaries.

  7. bloke (not) in spain

    You can take a boy out of Tottenham but you won’t take Tottenham out of the boy.

  8. The only reason he’s supporting this is so that those who pilfer unwarranted expenses from the hugest most ginormosest business in the whole land don’t go to jail at all.

  9. Well, it fits with the Labour Party philosophy.

    Every few years they gat their hands on the economy, royally fuck it up, pour billions down the drain and walk away to become millionaires.

    So, yeah, the bigger the institution you steal from, the less your punishment.

  10. Bloke in Costa Rica

    How does this work in practise? Does the victimised business have to submit accounts as part of the sentencing process? Is the severity of the sentence based on company turnover or on profit? If it’s trading at a loss does that enhance the sentence? Over how many years is the figure calculated? Is a plc treated differently from a privately-owned company? Is there a different tariff for different types of business based on their ‘social utility’?

    You might almost be tempted to think that Lammy was a fat cretinous socialist cunt who hadn’t thought this through.

  11. It’s one thing for the vulnerability of a victim to be treated as an aggrivating factor, quite another to decide crimes against those not classed as vulnerable aren’t so bad. Lamy has done the latter, the mastermind.

  12. Like someone said, if you punch someone it’s assault – if they die from the punch then it’s manslaughter. I’m all on board with the idea of the effect of the crime being a factor in determining its seriousness. But using the wealth of the victim? “You mugged this lady, but she’s a lawyer so have at it.” It might start off as a reasonable idea but it’d quickly become naked class war.

    And if Lammy had any marketing sense at all he would have said that robbing a corner shop was MORE serious, not that robbing Fortnums was LESS serious.

  13. Of course a £150 shoplift impacts a small corner shop more than F&M. But doesn’t F&M suffer a number of £150 shoplifts every day whereas the corner shop only has one ?

    So as a percentage of their turnover is there any difference between the impact of shoplifting on big or small stores ?

  14. What happens if you rob a Starbucks under this scheme. Starbucks = big, rich megacorp. Starbucks shop = little franchisee, possibly teetering on the edge of profitability. Does the defence, “But yer ‘onour, i fought they was huge evil taxdodgers!” become admissable?

  15. yet another example of an MP who does not understand the laws he is charged with maintaining.

  16. @Alastair

    Minor point, and I know he’s an idiot, but he understands the law, he just wants to change it. (Or the sentencing.)

  17. So mugging someone who earns £50k a year is half as serious as mugging someone who earns £25k a year?

  18. Finland and Denmark have a system whereby speeding fines are relative to income. But I’m not sure it’s morally right either.

  19. The point I think the PX report is making is that low value shoplifting has effectively been decriminalised by the decision not to prosecute at all where the goods stolen are worth less than £200 and instead to have £80 civil penalties which are almost never paid. I don’t think the proposal is to reduce the penalties for high value thefts but to increase them for low value thefts. The Fortnum and Mason example is to highlight how something with arguably relatively lower impact on the victim is punished whereas shoplifting with higher victim impact is not punished at all but where both involve the same act and the same intent.

    The criticism is curious because it is an unusual example of a Labour politician being tougher on crime than those on the right (and in the face of rules his own party brought in) and recognising the impact of crime on small businesses. It would have been much more “to form” had Lammy supported low value shoplifting being decriminalised “because poverty”.

  20. bloke (not) in spain

    @botzarelli
    Oh bollocks. Lamy just doesn’t much like; whilst reefing shops on his turf is an acceptable tax shop-keepers pay to the community, innit, the big stores can afford effective security & give the brothers a hard time. Gotta redress the balance, man. No wha’ I mean?

    I was at the count, in the Referendum Party interest, Ally Pally, the night Lamy got elected. The victor moving through the crowd of admirers with his pack of spades in shiny suits. The inheritor of Bernie Grant’s banana republic.

  21. Andrew – Seems sensible to me, with our system, a parking ticket is really just a higher rate of parking fee which rich people can afford to pay. If, in incurring that fee they block a high street, prevent the passage of emergency vehicles, or create a dangerous blind spot and increase the risk to vulnerable road users, not their problem, pay their £25 parking charge and carry on.

    Make it a bit more progressive, say, equivalent to one month’s income tax or £25 whichever is the higher, at the bottom end of the scale, rising to 6 months income tax at the top end. Wipe the grin off Rooney’s face when he gets a bill for £1.5m.

  22. Everyone like in and strip the Labour Party offices of their computers and shit. They are worth millions, stealing from them is much less serious.

  23. Justice systems in larger U.S. cities got bored with protecting citizens and got interested in protecting the criminals. Lighter sentences – reducing consequences for bad behavior – will only result in escalation of bad behavior. Shoplifters will evolve into murderers.

    You do the petty criminal no favors by not punishing him.

  24. AndyC
    ‘So mugging someone who earns £50k a year is half as serious as mugging someone who earns £25k a year?’

    I like this idea. So how much do people have to earn before we get a free go at them ? Or do we need this to be assessed as a decile of the regional average ? What would you need to earn in, I don’t know, Norfolk, for example ?

  25. The Meissen Bison

    TomJ: What happens if you rob a Starbucks under this scheme

    Murphy will organise HMRC collection tins outside every branch so if you don’t feel a moral necessity to pay for your coffee, you can chip in some moral tax.

    Guido has a good under-resourced HMRC story.

  26. The cunt is creating the thin end wedge for “normalising” what is increasingly the state of affairs. Crimes against particular groups aren’t crimes. And white men are at the head of the queue. White men can already get jail on the unsupported word of females. A white man supposedly attacking a black already is grounds to become an international cause celebre as has already happened several times. This ZaNu puke just wants formal acknowledgement of what has already been set up. Two-tier –and two-tone laws.

  27. I’m fairly sure that David Lammy makes way more than I do. So I supposed it’s going to be a slap on my wrist if I rob from him as opposed to his constituent?

  28. bloke (not) in spain

    @Botzarelli
    What Lammy’s failed to consider is F & M, being a much larger store may well be exposed to more shoplifters & suffer, proportionately, the same losses. Why all victims of theft should be treated the same. It’s the act of theft matters not the victim.
    That’s not to say one might not want to treat theft from small shops more harshly. They lack the economy of scale a larger enterprise might enjoy in being able to prevent theft. So you’d be redressing the balance.*
    Same outcome but the difference in reason’s important.
    One’s divisive**, other isn’t.

    *We already do this in some opportunity crime. Easier to perpetrate crimes attract higher penalties.
    **We know what Lammy is.

  29. So Much for Subtlety

    Gamecock – “Justice systems in larger U.S. cities got bored with protecting citizens and got interested in protecting the criminals. Lighter sentences – reducing consequences for bad behavior – will only result in escalation of bad behavior. Shoplifters will evolve into murderers. You do the petty criminal no favors by not punishing him.”

    By an amazing co-incidence, in New York murder is up by 20% or so in the first two months of 2015. Although it is from a fairly low base admittedly, some 45 last year. But I wonder what could have happened that might have caused that?

    The British justice system is not interested in punishing criminals either. I assume that they have all figured out that the best way to make money is for all the lawyers and judges to work together to keep as many criminals as possible on the streets. We have a test case – the vile little pukes who smeared British soldiers over claims they tortured in Iraq may be sued to recover costs:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2974219/Human-rights-lawyers-accused-misleading-five-year-war-crimes-inquiry-claiming-British-soldiers-tortured-innocent-Iraqis.html

    I bet they won’t be. I bet the government will drop it. The lawyers will get together and make sure that the other lawyers are protected and the gravy train keeps rolling.

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