Friday, July 4, 2014

Colwyn Bay - North Wales shoplifters will be sent to food banks after poverty drives them to steal

North Wales shoplifters will be sent to food banks after poverty drives them to steal

Police commissioner Winston Roddick reveals concerns that hunger is partly to blame for a 21% hike in shoplifting offences

Shoplifters driven to steal through hunger are to be sent to foodbanks by police
Shoplifters will be directed to food banks after concerns were raised that  hunger is partly to blame for a 21% hike in shoplifting offences during the past year.
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick revealed shoplifting accounted for 10% of all crime in the region - with drug addiction and hunger the most common causes.
This will now see all those arrested for shoplifting directed to their local food bank in a bid to cut crime.
Speaking at a breakfast meeting of the North Wales Business Club and the Institute of Directors he said half the incidents took place in 10 of the area's large chain stores.
As well the food bank idea, offenders will be directed to other support services  for drug addicts and a crackdown launched on the crimes.
This will see a new network of Shopwatch schemes developed by North Wales Policeacross the region.
Stores will also be encouraged to issue civil banning orders for shoplifters and a secure website is being developed so information including photographs of prolific offenders can be shared with retailers.
Offenders will also be handed details of local food banks as the commissioner said some were stealing to eat.
The Commissioner said: “The biggest crime against businesses nationally is shoplifting.
“In North Wales shoplifting counts for 10% of the overall crime figures with over half of the incidents taking place in 10 of the large chain stores.
“The Chief Constable, Mark Polin, and I are fully aware that shoplifting continues to be a challenge with reported offences up 21.7% when compared with the same period last year.
“We have agreed to develop further Shopwatch schemes following some excellent work in the Llandudno and Colwyn Bay areas.
“There will be an emphasis on engagement with all stores and encouraging them to issue civil banning orders for shoplifters.
“With the intention of influencing policy and develop joint problem solving solutions, there will be further regular engagement at a strategic level with big retailers.
“We shall also create a secure website to enable the sharing of information including photographs of prolific offenders with stores, and we are developing additional analytical products to identify the profile of the problem.
“Officers tell me that interviews of offenders and analysis of types of items stolen suggest many offences are committed to raise money to feed a drug habit or to obtain food.
“More work is required to quantify the impact which the current economic climate and benefit changes are having on crime levels.
“In the meantime, work is taking place to identify the location and operating hours of food banks and other support services.
“This information will then be made available in local communities and handed to those arrested for shoplifting."
Mr Roddick was accompanied at the meeting at the Quay Hotel, in Deganwy, by his Deputy, Julian Sandham, and Chief Finance Officer Kate Jackson.
The Commissioner urged his audience to sign up to the North Wales Online Watch Link (Owl) which enables people from different groups in the community to communicate with the police via email and/or text alerts.
Mr Roddick commissioned a survey to obtain a reliable assessment of the pressures caused by business crime, including shoplifting, is placing on the stores and their staff.
He added: “This will enable the Force to measure the problem and its causes and better enable it to tackle the problem..
“I want to continue working with the business community to solve mutual problems, and make North Wales a safe and secure place to do business.
“The way to help the police in this , is to report all crimes, and not just the ones where you need a crime number for making an insurance claim.
“Crimes against businesses are sometimes seen as 'victimless' which is not the case. The livelihood of the business owners and their employees are threatened by these crimes.”
Mr Roddick also informed the meeting that he was keen to gauge the views of the business community before setting his budget for the next financial year.
Mr David Williams, Chair of the North Wales Business Club, said: “Ensuring North Wales is a safe and well policed region is immensely important both to indigenous businesses but also to other businesses who may be considering locating and investing in North Wales.”

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