Police officers using discretion over shoplifters could 'encourage criminality' says Nigel Farage

Andy Cooke has asked officers to use discretion when deciding whether to prosecute shoplifters

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Police should use “discretion” when deciding whether to prosecute desperate shoplifters amid rising poverty levels, according to the new HM chief inspector of constabulary.

Andy Cooke told The Guardian that petty crime fuelled by the cost-of-living crisis would pose a challenge for policing, as inflation hit a 40-year high in April.

But speaking on GB News, Nigel Farage said this could be the start of a very slippery slope.

He said: "We know there are going to be millions of people living in poverty, we know it's going to be very, very tough.

Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage

"But this to me is almost encouraging criminality. I find it extraordinary."

Mr Cooke told the newspaper: “I think whenever you see an increase in the cost of living or whenever you see more people dropping into poverty, I think you’ll invariably see a rise in crime.

“And that’s going to be a challenge for policing to deal with.”

Speaking about his advice for officers, Mr Cooke added: “What they’ve got to bear in mind is what is the best thing for the community, and that individual, in the way they deal with those issue.

“And I certainly fully support police officers using their discretion – and they need to use discretion more often.”

Mr Cooke told The Guardian he was not “giving a carte blanche for people to go out shoplifting”, but wanted officers to ensure cases were “dealt with in the best way possible”.

He added that he hoped to pull the current 6% charge rate for recorded offences up to 20%, and to ensure every burglary victim should receive a visit from police.

Mr Cooke has worked in policing since 1985 including as Chief Constable of Merseyside Police until taking over as HM chief inspector of constabulary from Sir Tom Winsor in April.