STAFFORDSHIRE Police and Crime Commissioner has called for an urgent review of the way police and other community services work together to help people who are in dire need of support who turn to criminality out of desperation.
It follows reports of a local initiative in the north of Staffordshire where some people who have been arrested for shoplifting have been cautioned and then handed vouchers by the police to obtain food.
Mr Ellis says he’s asked the Chief Constable to review the approach as a matter of urgency.
He said: “This is a local scheme which I was unaware of. Whilst it’s obviously well intentioned, and even pragmatic, I’m concerned that a single process which includes being arrested for a criminal offence and then receiving vouchers on release after a caution sends mixed messages about offending.
“If this had been during winter months people in such dire circumstances would be in need of far more support than simply food.
"Local authorities have the capacity and expertise to offer a rounded approach to help an individual’s situation than the police possibly can so it’s crucial that the mechanisms are in place to make sure that happens.
“We live in very tough times and there are plenty of people who find themselves in appalling circumstances but don’t end up committing a crime."
“Police have a critical part to play in working with other agencies in situations like this to make sure support is available and it’s those other agencies that should have been on hand in a situation like this."
“We can’t allow any sense that the answer to a person’s situation is committing crime particularly when that will affect someone’s future prospects.
"Joined up services are crucial in these cases whilst maintaining the principle that crime mustn’t be tolerated”