“Shoplifting surge… The Federation has been warning for years that cuts have consequences”

The recent surge in shoplifting has come about as a result of more than a decade of budget cuts, Hampshire Police Federation has said.

The Federation has been warning for years that cuts have consequences and austerity would leave insufficient officers and resources to tackle crime properly.

Zoë Wakefield, Hampshire Federation Chair, said: “We need better pay and conditions for police officers. And we are still suffering from all those years of cuts and it’s going to take a long time for policing to get back to where it should be. The increase in shoplifting is just another example of a consequence of those cuts.”

Theft offences against businesses, such as shoplifting, have hit a record high of 1,000 offences a day, an unprecedented 25 per cent increase in a year, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics last month.

Zoë added: “When decisions are having to be made over where we put our police resources, are we going to go to shoplifting incidents? Are we going to go to domestic assaults where there are children involved? Are we going to go to burglaries where peoples’ homes have been trashed? You’ve got to weigh up all of them, because there aren’t enough people to go to everything.”

PFEW National Chair Steve Hartshorn, said: “It is alarming to see such a drastic rise in crimes against businesses, which would be predominately shoplifting, but not surprising in the current cost-of-living climate. What is desperately needed to help mitigate this issue includes a visible police presence in local areas, to not only deter shoplifters, but to also enable a swift response, to catch perpetrators and investigate.

“With an ongoing recruitment and retention crisis, despite efforts to boost officer numbers by 20,000, police officers numbers are not much higher than they were 10 years ago, and during that time, the population in England and Wales has grown by more than four million.”

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