Vulnerable people caught shoplifting in East Renfrewshire during the cost of living crisis will be offered support, a police officer has said.

Councillors were told how an increase in shoplifting is “a national trend” which Police Scotland believes is “tied to the current financial climate.”

Chief Inspector Graeme Gallie, area commander for East Renfrewshire, said when “vulnerable” individuals are identified they can be signposted to agencies which can offer support, such as social work.

A report to East Renfrewshire’s police and fire cabinet meeting last month stated the “number of crimes of dishonesty” in the area “continues to follow the national trend and is slowly returning towards pre-pandemic levels.”

Theft by shoplifting has increased, the report, which covered the period from January to March 2023, added, with 75 more offences “recorded this year compared to last year.

“The profile of offenders ranges from individuals to organised groups. Significant arrests were made this year relating to organised criminals targeting East Renfrewshire retailers.”

Councillor Katie Pragnell, Labour, said: “What can be done to tackle shoplifting? I understand that we have previously mentioned this increase could be due to the cost of living crisis.

“We’re seeing rising prices and they are not going down any time soon. What can be done to address that?”

She asked whether a public health approach to the issue was taken.
Ch Insp Gallie said officers in East Renfrewshire have “worked really, really closely with Retailers Against Crime as an organisation, which brings retailers and ourselves and other partners together to look at the holistic approach.”

He added: “We also tie that to our public health approach to policing because we appreciate that although there are organised groups committing these offences, we actually have very vulnerable people in the community.

“We know for instance that meat is one of the products that features in a lot of shoplifting. We are working closely with different partners in relation to how our public health approach brings in that support network.

“When we identify individuals who we feel are vulnerable we will submit a vulnerable persons database entry for that, so we can then signpost them to partner agencies such as social work.”