Ban on shop staff shaming shoplifters by pinning up images of culprits

Ban on shop staff shaming shoplifters by pinning up and sharing images of suspected culprits

  • Iceland boss says data protection laws prevent staff from exposing shoplifters
  • Richard Walker claims supermarket staff are threatened by thieves with needles 

Retail workers have been banned from pinning up and sharing images of repeat shoplifters by data protection rules, according to the boss of Iceland.

Richard Walker said privacy rules are hampering efforts to identify and capture the prolific thieves behind a shoplifting epidemic.

Gangs are now targeting stores in what amounts to organised looting, according to retail industry bosses.

And Mr Walker said terrified staff are attacked by thieves armed with needles, knives and screwdrivers.

Staff have been told they are not allowed to share pictures of known shoplifters by posting them on WhatsApp groups or staffroom walls because the Information Commissioner’s Office said it breached data protection laws.

Iceland boss Richard Walker said the rule banning shops from putting up photos of repeat shoplifters was ‘ridiculous’

Shops are being banned from putting up photos of repeat shoplifters amid concerns about data protection, according to the boss of Iceland

Mr Walker said: ‘This is no longer about the petty theft – this is about serious violence against our store colleagues by shoplifters which sadly is becoming more and more of an occurrence.’

He suggested store security guards should be given new powers, including the right to use handcuffs and truncheons, as part of a get tough approach. Security staff do not have the powers to stop, search, arrest and detain people.

And he told the BBC’s World at One: ‘We are not able to share pictures of known offenders on WhatsApp groups because it might breach their data protection human rights, which is ridiculous. All that needs reforming as well.’

The British Retail Consortium has reported that violence and abuse against staff has risen from 450 incidents a day in 2019/20 to more than 850 last year.

Data shows shoplifting has risen in those stores by 41 per cent in the first eight months of this year compared with the same period in 2022.

Retailers have accused the police of failing to take shoplifting and attacks on staff seriously. Mr Walker said it has become an ‘almost unpunishable crime’.

The Mail On Sunday launched a campaign urging authorities to act.

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