Police have seen a rise in the number of people stealing food – as the cost of living crisis deepens.
Figures obtained by the Derbyshire Times reveal the county’s police force recorded 1,325 thefts of food from shops or supermarkets between 2012 and 2013 – compared to 1,261 the previous year.
The shock statistic comes as many families across Derbyshire struggle to make ends meet because of inflation-busting bills, stagnant wages and changes to benefits.
Community Safety Inspector Russ Dakin, of Derbyshire police, said: “The cost of living has gone up significantly in recent years and we appreciate the financial constraints many residents are facing.
“However, shoplifting is a crime and it can have a huge impact on local retailers.
“We continue to work with local businesses to help them to increase security to prevent shoplifting and bring those caught to justice.
“We do recognise in a very small minority of cases people are stealing out of absolute desperation.
“In these cases we will signpost those offenders to other agencies who can help them with their welfare needs and try to divert them away from shoplifting.”
Laura Davies, crime policy officer at the British Retail Consortium, said high incidences of shoplifting and food theft ultimately pushed prices up.
She added: “Regardless of the motive retail crime shouldn’t be seen as a petty or victimless offence.
“It affects shops and staff, pushes up retailers’ costs and can impact directly on communities.”
Phil Morris, of the North East Derbyshire Citizens’ Advice Bureau, said many familes were “really struggling” as a result of benefit changes.
He added: “We’re having to refer a lot more residents to food banks which shouldn’t be happening in the 21st Century.
“In some cases parents are going without food so their children can eat.
“These are pretty desperate times for many.”