Price squeeze ‘forcing more to shoplift bare necessities’
Labour has warned of a rise in shoplifting for “basics” in the Westcountry as families struggle with the spiralling living costs.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper told delegates at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton that ministers should not be “triumphant” despite crime levels falling.
Crime levels in Devon and Cornwall are back to a historic low after a significant fall in offences.
Major concerns were raised last year when huge rises in violence, robbery and burglary were recorded as crime rose by 6% – the first time offences had increased since 2004.
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But the Western Morning News reported in April that Devon and Cornwall had seen a spectacular reversal of fortunes with crime falling in 2012-13 by 6.7% or 6,126 offences. However, in parts of the region officers are warning of a huge increase in shoplifting against a recent hike in the cost of living and the decline in the value of incomes.
Ms Cooper said: “Everyone welcomes the 20-year drop in recorded crime and we want it to go further but there is nothing spectacular about eight-and-a-half million crimes last year. When millions of victims want justice – not to see more criminals let off – ministers should be troubled, not triumphant about growing problems.
"Police reports from Devon, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire [are] about increases in shoplifting for basics – like meat for a family meal. And in one area, baby food and nappies.”
In Plymouth, crime prevention officer Sarah German recently said food was the number one item stolen. “They are stealing the basics,” she said. “The cost of living has gone up so much the temptation to steal has increased.”
In the speech, Ms Cooper said the Government needs to move “into the 21st century” and do more to tackle online crime.
She announced plans for the creation of a specific offence of identity theft and FraudWatch – a new industry-backed body to counter scams and fraudsters online. Ms Cooper also called on the Government to ask the Sentencing Council to review sentencing guidelines for e-crime.
Labour would combine health and adult care services, meaning the local NHS and council no longer work independently to provide care for the elderly, Shadow Heath Secretary Andy Burnham told the conference. The principle has been pioneered in the South West – Torbay introduced “integrated” care in 2005 – and could be key to the region tackling the ageing population.
Mr Burnham told delegates: “One service looking after the whole person – physical, mental and social. The NHS of the 21st century. A national health and care service, based on people before profits.”
“David Cameron must stop “ducking and diving” over whether he will agree to take part in televised leaders’ debates in the run-up to the General Election, Ed Miliband said yesterday. The Labour leader threw down the gauntlet to the PM calling on him to go head to head in the TV studios so the “country can make its choice”.”