The escalating cost of living is likely to lead to an increase in petty crime and present officers with substantive new challenges, Andy Cooke, the new HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary has warned. But his suggestions that police officers ought to use their discretion when dealing with shoplifters who are clearly struggling to buy food have been slammed by the policing minister. Speaking on LBC Radio, Kit Malthouse said:
“We believe the law should be blind. Police officers should act without fear or favour in the prosecution of the law.”
“I wrote to chief constables just a year or so ago saying they should not be ignoring those seemingly small crimes.”
“It’s not quite right to say that as the economy fluctuates, so does crime. We’ve seen economic problems in the past, or not, where crime has risen, or not.”
The new HM chief inspector of constabulary has long been calling on the government to tackle poverty in their efforts to fight crime. In April 2021 when he was retiring as head of the Merseyside force, Andy Cooke told The Guardian if given £5 billion to tackle crime he would spend 80 per cent on combatting poverty and only 20 per cent on policing.
But the policing minister has rejected the idea that poverty is a driving force of crime:
“There’s a growing body of evidence that says poverty doesn’t cause crime, crime and violence cause poverty.
“Our job is to make sure we drive down crime, notwithstanding that challenge for everybody.”
High prices will ‘invariably see a rise in crime’ – Cooke
Although the new chief inspector of constabulary predicts that the cost of living crisis will lead to a sharp rise in crime, he has rejected the idea of “giving a carte blanche for people to go out shoplifting.”
In advice to police officers Andy Cooke said:
“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 issues. And I certainly fully support police officers using their discretion – and they need to use discretion more often.”
The ex-Merseyside Chief Police Constable who took over from Sir Tom Winsor in April is aiming to increase the six-per cent recorded offences rate to 20 per cent while also ensuring that the police visit every burglary victim.
Policing minister’s views make the headlines
Over the past couple of days, Kit Malthouse has been making the headlines for his outspoken views.
In an interview with Nick Ferrari on LBC Radio, the policing minister rejected Cooke’s views accusing him of applying ‘old-fashioned thinking’. He also addressed community concerns over an officer patrolling the streets of Cambridge in a brightly coloured helmet to show solidarity with the LGBTQ community which many slammed as ‘virtue-signalling’:
“If he’s wearing that in a community environment then it’s a matter for his chief constable.
“If he’s got to the rank of superintendent it means he’s had an impressive career thus far and I can guarantee he will have nicked a lot of villains during his career.
“I’m a bit old-fashioned. I like brass buttons and a smart look, but as I say, he’s a senior police officer. He will have done a lot of villain nicking. I have to salute him for his service and treat this as one of those minor issues.”
This morning, Malthouse cooked up a Twitter storm with his references to ‘people at the bottom of the pile’ during a GMB interview.
Last October, he was left red-faced when he said he didn’t know where the PM was even though he was standing right next to him at the ITV studios. Shortly after emphasising that Boris Johnson is ‘honest all of the time’ and saying he didn’t know where the PM was, the camera swivelled and zoomed in on Johnson.
Policing minister breaks ranks with the cabinet and demands immediate tax cuts
Speaking during an interview on TalkTV, the policing minister called on Rishi Sunak to introduce tax cuts without delay:
“The Chancellor has already signalled his desire to reduce taxes. I sincerely hope he’ll be doing it shortly.”
“We all came into conservative politics into the party to reduce the burden of the state on individuals leave as much money in people’s pockets as they can so they can make choices for themselves about their own lives.”
At the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in London, the chancellor, Rishi Sunak admitted that the “next few months will be tough”. He failed to respond to Labour’s call for an emergency budget to tackle the impact of high inflation on household budgets.