Police ‘fear surge in crime and civil unrest’ driven by cost of living crisis this winter

Concerns of spike in ‘acquisitive’ offences, such as shoplifting, burglary and vehicle theft

Matt Mathers
Sunday 04 September 2022 14:25 BST
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Police chiefs are drawing up contingency plans to deal with an expected rise in crime this winter as the cost of living crisis worsens, it has been reported.

Forces are said to be braced for a breakdown in public order and even corruption among officers as energy bills become more expensive.

The average household bill for gas and electricity in England will rise to an eye-watering £3,549 from 1 October.

Analysts estimate that the energy price cap, set by regulator Ofgem, could hit £4,266 by January - with campaigners warning that more than 1 million people will be pushed into "extreme poverty".

A national strategy paper, written in the summer, has revealed police chiefs are increasingly concerned that "economic turmoil and financial instability" has the "potential to drive increases in particular crime types", according to The Sunday Times.

The document says these include "acquisitive" offences, such as shoplifting, burglary and vehicle theft. Police chiefs also fear a spike in online fraud and blackmail.

Some forces also fear more children will be drawn into county lines drug gangs and women could fall victim to sexual exploitation.

The document, drawn up with input from the National Police chiefs' council, says: "Greater financial vulnerability may expose some staff to higher risk of corruption, especially among those who fall into significant debt or financial difficulties."

The government has announced a financial package to help people struggling with their bills.

But charities and campaigners have warned that the measures do not go far enough and called for more action to offset soaring bills.

Liz Truss, the favourite to win the Tory leadership contest and replace Boris Johnson as prime minister next week, has said she will act within "one week" to provide more support but did not give any specific detail on her plans.

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