Source: (2013) London: The Howard League for Penal Reform

My argument is that imprisonment should be abolished for property offences. The focus is on what may be termed ‘pure property offences’, that is, leaving aside offences intended to violate other rights as well as property. So I am not dealing here with offences that are violent, threatening or sexual. This means that excluded from this discussion are offences such as robbery (which requires the use or threat of violence),1 blackmail (which requires a threat), and burglary of a dwelling (which is intended also to violate the right of privacy2 ). But that leaves a wide range of crime within the definition of ‘property offences’. The central offence is theft, which can run from thefts from shops and from motor vehicles through thefts from employers and pickpocketing to lucrative thefts by persons in positions of significant trust. Also included are fraud, handling stolen goods and criminal damage.3 My argument is that sentences of imprisonment are disproportionate to these offences and should therefore not be available to the courts.