Durham recorded the second highest increase in the country in 2022-23 – 62.4 per cent – behind Northumbria.
READ THE FULL STORY ABOUT THE RELAUNCH OF DARLINGTON’S SHOPWATCH
There are numerous reasons for this. The cost of living crisis is leaving some people so desperate that they feel they have no choice but to steal to eat. There is also an addiction crisis, with drug users stealing to get their next dose.
And then there is organized crime, where gangs brazenly steal on an industrial scale. They know that even when they get caught, police respond to only 20 percent of incidents (according to the cooperative, which says some responders respond to fewer than 10 percent); They know that even if they are convicted, it is unlikely that they will go to prison because our prisons are so full that less serious convicts are released.
But shoplifting is serious. It’s serious for store staff being threatened with weapons; it is serious for shop owners who see their inventory disappearing and the profitability of their business at risk; It’s serious for shoppers, who see prices rising to cover the crime and more and more stores closing.
Deterrence is key, which is why it is positive that Darlington’s newly launched Shopwatch program is now being expanded.
Two other points: Why do supermarkets encourage people to walk out with their goods without ever looking an employee in the eye, and what role has the decline in police numbers played in the increase in shoplifting?
The Durham Police Commissioner, Joy Allen writes about this very topic in last Saturday’s newspaper, pointed out that her force is one of 15 in the country that still has fewer officers than it did in 2010, when austerity measures began. This is a crime where more police on the streets would act as a deterrent – will Labor promise to bring police numbers back to pre-austerity levels?
READ MORE OPINIONS AND COMMENTS FROM THE NORTHERN ECHO HERE