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Dublin: 6 °C Saturday 24 March, 2018

Councillors want gardaí to be able to hand over shoplifters' details to stores

John Buttimer, who put forward the motion, said the intention would be to target prolific shoplifters and not one time offenders.

Image: shoplifting image via Shutterstock

CORK CITY COUNCILLORS have passed a motion calling on the Department of Justice and the Data Protection Commissioner to give gardaí powers to pass details of prolific shoplifters over to retailers.

The motion was put forward last week by Fine Gael councillor John Buttimer, who said the issue came up in the latest Joint Policing Committee meeting which heard there had been a 27% increase in the offence in Cork city between March and May of this year, compared to the same period in 2014.

He said gardaí informed them they were “very much aware of who the prolific shoplifters are” but they are not allowed to give this information to stores. He believes a move like this could virtually eliminate organised shoplifting in the city.

The majority of councillors voted in favour of the motion, which was amended to include a requirement that only people with convictions could be placed on a list.

Buttimer’s party colleague, councillor Des Cahill, said he does not believe the penalties for shoplifters are strong enough and he would be in favour of anything that could be done to curb it.

When asked if he had concerns about the potential issues with data protection, Cahill responded:

There’s too much protection out there for them, I’m not one for erring on the side of caution.


Not everyone on the council shares this view, however. Worker’s Party councillor Ted Tynan told he voted against the motion because he sees it as “something that could get out of control”.

He has concerns that “someone in desperate need of a loaf of bread” could end up blacklisted forever in their local shops because of one incident.

I appreciate that there is an issue of shoplifting but I think this is a draconian measure.

Tynan pointed out that the country is still in a situation where more gardaí are retiring than coming in and said Fine Gael should be focused on addressing this, rather than using a “cheap electioneering motion”.

Buttimer stressed to us that the intention of the motion and any legislation that might come about would not be to penalise a person who committed just one act of shoplifting but rather those who are known to gardaí as regular offenders.

Many shops in his constituency already have a similar system in place, he said, with photos of shoplifters caught in the act on CCTV taped up behind their counters. Some shops have also been posting photos of offenders online.

The approved motion has now been sent to the Department of Justice and to the office of the Data Protection Commissioner.

What do you think of the motion? Should gardaí be able to hand over the details of prolific shoplifters to retailers? 

Poll Results:

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