Although crime rates in general have been falling, there has been a surge in shoplifting locally. The Dundee Courier reports: ‘Police Scotland’s Fife Division has reported a 37% rise in theft by shoplifting from shops across the region compared to last year. Officers believe many people are stealing just to survive.’
The link is difficult to prove, of course; a study would need to link convictions with benefit status. In the early 1970s, the ‘four week rule’ imposed sanctions indefinitely for people who failed to get straight back to work in areas deemed to be of high employment. In Scrounging on the welfare (1974) Molly Meacher found that about a third of the people who had benefit stopped had been convicted of their first criminal offence shortly afterwards. Now that we have lengthy, fixed term sanctions in place, there have to be concerns that something similar may be happening.