Legalize shoplifting? Officers should exercise ‘discretion’, says Watchdog

Police should use ‘discretion’ when deciding whether to prosecute people for shoplifting in Britain due to the cost of living crisis, the recently installed chief of a police dog has argued. police guard.

Andy Cooke, who was installed by the Conservative government last month as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, has warned there will be a rise in crime due to runaway inflation and other economic problems in Great Britain.

In response to the likely rise in poverty and therefore crime, the police watchdog told the left Guardian newspaper that the police should be lenient towards those who steal from stores.

“There are always individual cases where you can use your discretion that don’t necessarily result in prosecution, but are dealt with in the best way possible. And shoplifting is a good example, isn’t it? Cooke suggested.

“What they have to keep in mind is what’s best for the community, and that individual, in how they deal with these issues. And I certainly fully support police officers who use their discretion – and they need to use their discretion more often. »

An unnamed police chief, who was described by The Guardian as having “pockets of poverty” under their jurisdiction, said, “There is a difference between a first-time offender who steals bread, cheese or milk to eat, and someone who steals to feed an addiction.”

While Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector said he was not in favor of ‘giving people carte blanche to shoplift’, the statements drew backlash from the government which appointed Cooke to its position. post.

Government Police Minister Kit Malthouse called the Chief Inspector’s views “old-fashioned” and inadequate to prevent rising crime.

“We believe first and foremost that the law should be blind and that police officers should act without fear or favor in pursuit of the law,” Malthouse said.

When asked if the police should still enforce the law against those who steal food, the Minister of Police replied: ‘Absolutely right’, adding: ‘In fact I have written to the chiefs of police there barely a year or so ago to tell them they shouldn’t ignore those seemingly petty crimes.”

Indeed, the importance of petty crime policing has been widely credited with a reduction in crime in New York City under former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who implemented a “broken windows” policy, with the idea that the enforcement of basic laws, such as breaking a window, other more serious crimes will also fall.

Contrary to the approach taken by Giuliani, Democratic-controlled states in America suffered widespread economic damage as a result of the decriminalization of laws on shoplifting and other offenses.

In California, for example, leftist voters passed Proposition 47 in 2014, which states that stealing items worth up to $950 will not be considered a crime.

Large retail stores in the city of San Francisco have been hit particularly hard by the relaxation of shoplifting laws, with outlet Walgreens closing dozens of stores in the Bay Area due to the increased theft making locations unprofitable.

Criticizing the lax approach taken by Democratic leaders in the state, El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson said in December, “We cannot function as a society where we have repeatedly people that there are no consequences to stealing someone else’s property. .”

Retail groups have estimated that losses from cookie-cutter and shoplifting amount to tens of billions of dollars in losses annually in the United States.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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