Some of Britain’s biggest high street retail chains have resorted to paying for drug addicted shoplifters to go to rehab because it is treated as a low-level crime by police and prosecutors.
The Co-op, Boots and Morrisons are helping to pay for up to six months’ residential drug rehab for addicts who cost them thousands of pounds in goods stolen to feed their habit, and often assault staff in the process.
Sainsbury’s, Lidl, B&Q, Amazon and TK Maxx are in talks with police to join the scheme aimed at weaning people off drug addiction. It is the first scheme in the UK in which companies fund the treatment of criminals targeting their businesses.
The scheme has been backed by policing chiefs, who say shoplifters should be spared jail if there are alternatives that can break the cycle of reoffending.
Donna Jones, the lead for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners’ (APCC) serious and organised crime division, said: “Police forces across the country are really struggling to get to these 999 calls and then deal with it, because of how it’s being graded as an offence.