Mothers 'steal to feed children' as poor rely on food banks
Shoplifters in deprived areas target essential items, say police, amid growing economic hardship
YOUNG MOTHERS in South Yorkshire are being forced to steal to feed their children as the economic downturn continues to bite, according to police.
In deprived areas like Rotherham, where crime has increased by 28 per cent in the last 12 months, the poor have been reduced to stealing groceries and other essential items just to survive.
The claims come days after it was reported that the number of people turning to charity food banks this year is expected to double to almost 250,000, and charities said people were walking up to 20 miles to claim emergency handouts because they could not afford public transport.
In Rotherham, many shoplifters are now targeting everyday items rather than luxury goods, according to the South Yorkshire Police, interviewed by the BBC.
"What we are seeing is a small number of individuals - particularly young mums - who are committing crimes to feed their children," said Chief Superintendent Jason Harwin.
"If you look at powdered milk or baby food it's quite expensive. These are individuals that have had no dealings with the police in their lives and this is the first offence they've ever committed."
Earlier this month, the Metro reported that the number of people using food banks was expected to exceed 220,000 this year.
"The hungry are turning up at food banks on foot because they cannot afford public transport. Nearly all of them have their own homes and many of them are in work," it reported.
There has been a massive increase in people using food banks since the economic downturn, according to the Trussell Trust. In 2008/9 26,000 people were referred; this year almost ten times as many are expected.
It lays bare the impact of the economic crisis and the inadequacies of the benefits system, writes Rowenna Banks in the New Statesman.
"The old stereotype of who goes hungry is changing. We need to catch up with the new reality of the working poor... Food banks that once served a problematic, difficult minority are now helping many in the mainstream." ·