This England

Shoplifters will escape punishment if they hand the stolen goods back and say sorry to the store-owner, it emerged yesterday.

The British Retail Consortium, whose members lose almost £800m to shoplifting every year, said it was a "licence to walk into shops and take things".

Police, who would supervise the apology, could then class the crime as being solved.

Daily Mail (David Harling)

The 21-year-old man paid Lesley Cole £20 for sex after stopping his bicycle in a red-light area. He wheeled his push-bike to the rear of a nearby electricity substation in Boscombe, Dorset, and Cole followed. The pair were spotted by a policeman and both were arrested. Inspector Mark Kelly, of Boscombe police, said: "He was arrested at the time on suspicion of kerb crawling. But the law states that it is a person in a motor vehicle, and a bike doesn't count." Cole's client was released with a caution. Cole, 25, was jailed for ten weeks.

Times (Francis Harvey)

This article first appeared in the 26 March 2007 issue of the New Statesman, Scotland: Time to break free?