Home secretary Priti Patel’s announcement that the level of shoplifting has fallen compared to the year before has baffled viewers of the latest government press briefing.
In her second appearance in front of cameras at Downing Street since the coronavirus outbreak hit, the home secretary said there had been a fall in overall crime during the outbreak, with ‘car crime, burglary, shoplifting’ lower than the same period last year.
Addressing criminals, she said: ‘Today I have a message for them. Our world-class law enforcement is also adapting, and they are on to you, and their efforts are paying off.’
Whilst good news is welcome, viewers were somewhat baffled by the declaration that people were stealing from shops less, given most are currently shut.
‘Priti Patel just proudly informed us that shoplifting has fallen during the lockdown. Has anyone told her most shops are shut?’, asked Piers Morgan.
‘Good to hear from Priti Patel at Downing Street Briefing that shoplifting is down,’ wrote Nazir Afzal. ‘Nothing to do with all the shops being closed.’
TNE columnist Mitch Benn posted: ‘I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say there’s probably also been a bit of a dip in car crashes, accidental drownings and people tripping over uneven paving stones. Call it a hunch.’
Otto English tweeted: ‘Some good news as Priti Patel declares that shoplifting is down by three hundred thousand, thirty four, nine hundred and seventy four thousand percent.’
‘Next up: deaths from the Bubonic Plague are on the wane and dinosaur attacks have dwindled,’ responded Twitter user @geraintgriffith.
‘That’s like saying football referee Mike Dean hasn’t produced a yellow card for over a month…’ said @modmuffin.
Jeanna Louise Skinner tweeted: ‘Priti Patel boasting that shoplifting is down in the light of over 20,000 deaths is like losing your house in a fire and then your insurance company finding a box of matches in the rubble.’
A cynical radio broadcaster James O’Brien wrote: ‘I’m sooo bored of having to choose weapons grade stupidity or dead cats designed to get us talking about something other than the government’s incompetence. On this occasion, I lean toward the latter.’
He added: ‘In support of the dead cat theory, you just know there will be way more noise about her shoplifting stupidity than the fact we’ve just passed the 20,000 deaths threshold, staying below which the Chief Scientific Adviser said would be a ‘good outcome’. (I’m guilty of it myself.)’
It comes as the government dropped Patel’s immigration bill from House of Commons business as it grapples with the coronavirus and the new virtual parliament arrangements.
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