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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 April 2006, 16:38 GMT 17:38 UK
Shoplifters fined on the street
Policeman issuing a fine
The fines are being handed out for shoplifting and criminal damage
Shoplifters and people causing criminal damage are being given on-the-spot fines instead of being taken into custody under a new police scheme.

Thames Valley Police has started using powers to hand out 80 penalty notices at the scene of the crime rather than taking the person to a police station.

Force bosses insist the fines are only used if the victim is happy for the crime to be dealt with in such a way.

They said handing out the fines on the street saves time and paperwork.

Shocked victims

But officers can decide to arrest and charge offenders if they think that is the best course of action.

Insp Jane Meadows said: "It is an effective way of deterring low-level crime that blights people's lives and an 80 penalty is enough of a deterrent to get people to think again.

"Officers will also need to consider the impact of the crime on any victim or person in the vicinity of the crime.

"If someone has been particularly shocked or frightened by the offence a penalty notices for disorder (PND) may not be suitable. The victim would have to be happy for the matter to be dealt with by way of a PND."


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