Police chief warns rise in shoplifting down to cost of living crisis

Tayside’s Chief Superintendent said increasing rates of shoplifting could be apportioned to the skyrocketing cost of living.

Tayside police chief warns rise in grocery shoplifting down to cost of living crisis iStock

Tayside’s police chief has said an increase in shoplifting of food and essential items across the region is likely due to the cost of living crisis.

Speaking at a council meeting in Angus, Tayside’s Chief Superintendent, Phil Davison, warned the force has noticed “slight” changes in the type of items taken in such crimes recently.

Ch Supt Davidson said there have been reports of citizens stealing basic necessities and said the force has concerns over the wider impact as more people struggle financially.

The senior figure was discussing a police quarterly performance report with councillors at Angus Council’s scrutiny and audit committee on Wednesday.

Arbroath West, Letham and Friockheim Councillor Martin Shepherd noted a small increase in vandalism in Angus from 174 incidents in April, May, and June in 2021 to 182 in the same months in 2022.

In response, Ch Supt Davidson said: “We are alive to the risks of this (increased crime).

“We’ve already started to see some slight trends in changes to shoplifting, for example, in terms of increased instances of food stuffs and essential items being taken.

“And that is an indicator of cost of living impact, unfortunately.

“Equally displacement of people through a variety of circumstances may lead to instances of antisocial behaviour and other crime types.

“We’re working with, not just fire service colleagues and local authority, but on that national basis to ensure we’ve got that understanding around…where we as a policing service and with partners can create best advice, support and approaches into our local communities.

“So I certainly acknowledge the cost of living impact.”

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service also spoke at the meeting to raise concerns residents may try to save money by using off-the-grid heating devices, putting themselves and others at greater risk.

When asked about the risk by Labour Councillor for Monifieth and Sidlaw, Heather Doran, the fire service’s Group Commander for Tayside, Scott Gibson said: “I can wholeheartedly say that I personally see it — and the fire service see it — as a real potential risk going forward with the cost of living crisis and how people will heat their homes in the future.

“In the coming months and in the very short time scales between now and in the winter, we’re probably looking at a lot more things like open fires, (and) old paraffin heaters coming out of isolation and garages.

“It’s a real risk and it’s a real challenge that people are going to face when it comes to financing heating their homes. We’re trying to continually highlight the risks.”

It comes after inflation reached 11.8% in June.

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