In 2007 – the most recent year for which figures are available – 45,146 penalty notices for disorder were issued for shop theft.
This week Justice Secretary Jack Straw confirmed that only 24,344 of the fines had been registered. There were 172 people who chose to have their cases heard by a court.
Straw was responding to a Parliamentary question tabled by Conservative Anne McIntosh, who also wanted to know how many people had been prosecuted for non-payment of a PND.
Straw said: “Non-payment of a penalty notice for disorder does not of itself result in prosecution for failing to pay.
“Recipients of PNDs may either pay the penalty or opt for a court hearing, when they may be prosecuted for the original offence. If they do neither, a fine of one and a half times the amount of the penalty is registered against them.
“Currently it is not possible to provide separate enforcement rates for fines arising from unpaid PNDs.”
Straw added that the government was responding to calls for no more than one PND to be issued to shoplifters as part of plans for a “tougher response” to shop theft.
Government figures for England and Wales show that 62,565 defendants were found guilty in court for shoplifting in England and Wales 2007.