The police have given their backing to a scheme that will go easy on shoplifters amid the cost of living crisis.
A Tesco store in West Derby, Liverpool which is losing £50,000 a month to thieves will be the first to launch the pilot scheme amid rising inflation and there are hopes it could be rolled out nationwide.
Those who’ve been caught red-handed shoplifting essential goods like food won’t be arrested by police.
According to a newspaper outlet, instead, they will be referred to local food banks and debt advice services by Tesco security staff.
The head of a police watchdog just a few months ago told officers they should use their discretion when determining whether to prosecute shoplifters amid a soaring rate of thefts at the start of this year.
Suggestions not to act on theft have previously prompted a hostile retort from the retail industry which has called it irresponsible.
Labour MP Ian Byrne, behind the Tesco idea, told a newspaper outlet it’s not giving people ‘carte blanche’ to steal and wants it to go nationwide.
He said that this type of theft is an act of desperation and that they have many mums and dads who never would have considered shoplifting and that what he wants is to stop the criminalisation of the working classes.
Merseyside Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell, also told a newspaper outlet that no one in our society should need to steal to eat or provide for their children.
She said that it was a damning indictment of the legacy of this Government and that their priority was always on stopping crime, and that they were engaged with the retail industry and community safety partners to try to ensure vulnerable people get help.
She said the West Derby Tesco will train securities and staff to spot signs of desperate theft and respond accordingly, and that signs will be put up around the store giving details of support services.
Andy Cooke, the head of the new policing watchdog, suggested in May that officers should weigh up whether it was best to haul those who steal to eat before the courts.
Andy Cooke, a former Merseyside police chief who took over as head of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in April, said that the impact of poverty and the impact of lack of opportunity for people did lead to an upsurge in criminality.
Is this a good idea or is it an invitation to crime? And it sounds like they’re now getting security guards to do the job of the police, and it appears that the police service is now advocating it’s alright to steal.
If Tesco was to set up a free distribution site separate from the main store, they could then estimate and manage how much they were giving away. The main store would then hopefully remain a theft-free site.
It’s fantastic that Tesco is doing this, but I’ve got a funny feeling the good and the great on the Director’s Board at Tesco HQ are going to regret this brand new shiny enterprise.
Again it’s a great idea, but people shoplift for numerous reasons, and being hungry is only one of them. However, many shoplifters steal to sell to finance drugs and alcohol, and this doesn’t send an exemplary message to our children, and it will just teach them that criminality pays, but still, it’s nice to know that now anybody can just help themselves to whatever they want in Liverpool.