SHOPLIFTERS will be directed to foodbanks in Denbighshire as the region’s Police Commissioner believes hunger is an underlying factor in many offences.
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick CB said there was to be a crackdown on shoplifting in Denbighshire. He revealed at a breakfast meeting of the North Wales Business Club and the Institute of Directors that shoplifting accounted for 10 per cent of all crime in the region.
He said that making sure people weren’t hungry would reduce the number of thefts in the region.
Mr Roddick said: “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.”
According to Mr Roddick, half of shoplifting incidents took place in 10 of the area's large chain stores.
As part of the campaign, a new network of Shopwatch schemes will be developed by North Wales Police across the region.
Stores are 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.
The Commissioner said: "The biggest crime against businesses nationally is shoplifting. Out of 7.3 million business crimes in the UK in 2013, 3.3 million were shoplifting.
"In North Wales, shoplifting counts for 10 per cent 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 per cent 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 develpoing additional analytical products to identify the profile of the problem.
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.
He said: "I would like you to tell me what you think about crime and policing in North Wales”.