London: British police are to hand out free underwear and deodorant to poor youngsters in a bid to stop them stealing the goods from stores.
Cambridgeshire constabulary will provide free soap and underwear to underprivileged young people, who police believe are most likely to steal the items in order to fit in with classmates.
An investigation by the force found some underprivileged young people regularly try to shoplift toiletries and underwear after being bullied at school.
The initiative, dubbed ‘Sue’s Essential’s,’ is the brainchild of crime reduction officer Sue Loaker.
A lack of access to the most basic of items not only causes discomfort but can also lead to embarrassment and bullying,” said Loaker.
“This can cause low self-esteem and in the worst cases we have seen young people resorting to crime in order to try and get hold of these items.”
The scheme has been launched in Ely and will be rolled out across Cambridgeshire.
Schools, GP surgeries, foodbanks and other organizations will hand out the packages to youngsters, and will offer advice on healthy living and personal care.
Chief Inspector Donna Wass said: “We know that when times are hard financially, poverty can push people towards criminal behaviours in extreme cases.
“We want to do everything that we can to avoid criminalizing people – particularly young people – in hardship, and this initiative from Sue is part of a compassionate response to that.”