People are turning to crime to feed their families in York – while there’s been a ‘huge surge’ in the number of malnourished babies.
The impact of the cost of living crisis has seen a leap in shoplifting in the city.
North Yorkshire Police data shows there have been 84 instances of shoplifting food in York between 1 January and 20 May this year, which are the latest figures available.
If that trend continues, York could record the highest rate of shoplifting in 2023 for more than a decade.
Fiona McCulloch, chief officer at Citizens Advice’s York bureau, said there are clear signs some are turning to crime, which has serious health implications.
“In the middle of last year supermarkets started putting security tags on baby formula,” she said.
“That led to a huge surge of malnourished babies in York because mums are watering down the formula to try and make it last longer.”
She added: “We can’t give them legal advice, but what we would do is find them a good criminal solicitor if they come to us with that problem.
“They probably wouldn’t normally tell us [they plan to shoplift], but they say we need help and that’s when we give them food vouchers or fuel vouchers.
“Usually they know we can give them vouchers so they wouldn’t say ‘I’m about to go and steal’ but they would say ‘we’re starving, we haven’t eaten for three days’.”
Signs of desperation
A spokesperson for the foodbank charity The Trussell Trust said they are also seeing signs of desperation.
“We know from our latest data that food banks in The Trussell Trust network in the Yorkshire and the Humber have given out more than 200,000 emergency food parcels to people between April 2022 and March 2023 – a 28 per cent increase compared to last year,” the spokesperson said.
“We know that more and more people have been left with no option but to turn to charitable, volunteer-run organisations to get by.”
According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), shop price annual inflation accelerated to 9.0 per cent in May, up slightly from 8.8 per cent in April, as the cost-of-living crisis continues to affect families across Yorkshire and the rest of the UK.
This is above the three-month average rate of 8.9 per cent and brings shop price growth to a fresh high.
While food inflation decelerated in May, it is still the second-highest inflation rate in the food category on record.
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