Police should use “discretion” when deciding whether to prosecute desperate shoplifters amid rising poverty levels, the new HM chief inspector of constabulary has suggested.
Andy Cooke said petty crime fuelled by the cost-of-living crisis would pose a challenge for policing, as inflation hit a 40-year high in April.
Mr Cooke said: “I think whenever you see an increase in the cost of living or whenever you see more people dropping into poverty, I think you’ll invariably see a rise in crime.
“And that’s going to be a challenge for policing to deal with.”
Speaking about his advice for officers, Mr Cooke added: “What they’ve got to bear in mind is what is the best thing for the community, and that individual, in the way they deal with those issue.
“And I certainly fully support police officers using their discretion – and they need to use discretion more often.”
Mr Cooke told The Guardian he was not “giving a carte blanche for people to go out shoplifting”, but wanted officers to ensure cases were “dealt with in the best way possible”.
He added that he hoped to pull the current 6% charge rate for recorded offences up to 20%, and to ensure every burglary victim should receive a visit from police.
It comes after a council declared an official emergency declaration amid the cost of living crisis as usage of their food banks surged.
Eastbourne foodbank has this year distributed more parcels per head than any other as the cost of living crisis deepens, the Trussell Trust network says.
The foodbank, a lifeline for some families now struggling more so than ever, handed out 17,440 emergency food parcels per 100,000 people last year, the charity added.
Councillor Josh Babarinde said the emergency declaration would help Eastbourne Borough Council work more effectively with charities. reports the Independent.
He said: “We need immediate action from the government – they have to realise that this cost of crisis has become an emergency because of their inaction.
“People are coming to me every day saying, “I don’t know how I’m going to get by”, There are parents who are skipping meals all the time so their kids can eat.”
Councillor Babarinde said he has been speaking to residents who are avoiding using appliances in their home in a bid to save on energy bills.
He said one elderly lady has chosen to keep her TV switched off – which was her only company living alone.
The council’s motion is expected to lead to an emergency cost of living summit in Eastbourne where charities and foodbanks can work together to find ways to alleviate the burden on residents.
The motion also calls for Westminster to bring in a national windfall tax on oil and gas companies’ profits.