The Daily Telegraph

Cost of living worries could increase crime, police say

- By Daniel Capurro SENIOR REPORTER

POLICE chiefs fear a surge in crime this winter as the cost of living crisis takes its toll on both the public and officers, a leaked document has revealed.

The strategy paper reportedly shows that police forces across the country are concerned about rising crime, civil disorder and potentiall­y greater incentives for corruption among officers.

They are concerned that “economic turmoil and financial instabilit­y” has the “potential to drive increases in particular crime types”, reported The Sunday Times. Those crimes included so-called acquisitiv­e ones, such as theft, burglary and fraud.

The paper also reported that both Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, and police chiefs are concerned about more children being drawn into the county lines system, where urban drug gangs use youngsters to move their products into provincial towns and rural areas.

Meanwhile, the document also claimed that police officers under financial strain from rising energy prices and inflation could be more exposed to bribery and corruption. That came alongside warnings that the job could become less attractive owing to low pay.

Asked about the report, and the pressures on police, Steve Hartshorn, the chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “We’re now in the appalling situation where we are hearing about officers having to resort to food vouchers to feed their families, with one in seven struggling to cover their monthly essentials.

“This is only set to get worse as inflation increases and the cost of living crisis deepens, further exacerbati­ng the significan­t reduction in police pay in real terms since 2010.”

The warning comes amid fears over strain on the public sector, with the NHS heading into the autumn and win- ter with excess deaths already above average and schools worried about the cost of heating their premises.

Several police and crime commission­ers expressed worries about the effect of the cost of living crisis, including those for Merseyside and West Midlands Police.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council dismissed claims that it was preparing for such a scenario or that there would be a “tidal wave” of crime.

A spokesman said: “[We] regularly engage with partners in discussion­s around causes and drivers for crime in general and their trends, such as burglaries and theft; and the cost of living crisis will be considered as part of its impact on these crimes.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom