Earlier this week I sat down to watch Dispatches on Channel 4.
The show was entitled “Low Pay Britain”, and the opening sequence included a number of comments from people in Lancaster city centre who suggested that they were far from upbeat about the current economic climate.
The premise of the show was to question whether the apparent record levels of employment stood up to closer scrutiny. In essence, they did not, but the show also concluded that there are many more people in this country who are now living in poverty.
When people are living in such conditions they often become desperate. In my view, one indication to support this contention is the fact that it has now been confirmed that the offence of shoplifting is increasing dramatically.
Latest figures show that there were over 630,000 incidents of customer theft committed in the UK over a 12 month period. This is a 10 year high.
What astounded me was the fact that only nine per cent of such offences are reported to the police. Many stores stated that they had “lost faith” in the police as it was suggested that they did not see shoplifting as serious as it was perceived to be a ‘victimless crime’.
The British Retail Consortium estimate that shoplifting costs retailers a staggering £511 million per year.
I am sure that you do not need me to spell out how those retailers recoup that lost revenue, but obviously we all suffer by increased prices at the till.
This seems to me to be yet another example of the underlying issues not being properly addressed and then all of us having to face the consequences.
I sincerely hope that this theory doesn’t come across as too revolutionary, but if those in work had stability at the workplace and were paid a fair wage, why would they ‘need’ to steal?
Likewise, those on benefits are increasingly facing sanctions so that they are struggling to feed themselves, and increasing numbers are resorting to crime to do so.
Incidentally, this all occurs within one of the richest economies on the planet.