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UK police links welfare policy to rise in robberies

This file video grab apparently shows masked men before an armed robbery attempt at a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland in Derbyshire, in central England.

The police in the British province of Scotland believe there is a direct link between dramatic rise in crimes in the country, including robberies, and the government's welfare policy.

Results of a report by Police Scotland published on Saturday said the Conservative-led government’s introduction of the so-called Universal Credit, which seeks to fully replace a range of benefits with a lump-sum payment, is to blame for a nearly 30-percent increase in the number of robberies over the past five years.

The Scottish Police Authority recorded a 12-percent increase in robberies between April and June this year, compared to the previous year, with a total 880 cases. It said a same rising trend had been observed in the same period since 2013.

The police said in a statement that "anecdotal evidence from intelligence suggests that a combination of increased drug prices due to police enforcement, and changes to welfare systems, may have contributed to an increase in crimes of dishonesty and robbery."

The British government has consistently denied a series of austerity measures that have been in place since 2010, including cuts to the social welfare, has had anything to do with the rise in crime across Britain.

The Department for Work and Pensions reacted to the Scottish police report, saying the link established was not true and was “purely based on anecdotal evidence”.

Many have criticized the Universal Credit, saying it has negatively affected those in needs across Britain by making them even more vulnerable. The measure has also faced criticism over its administrative costs and its IT problems.

Analyst believe that the new system will leave some 3.2 million working families worse off as they could lose about £2,500 a year compared to what they received as benefits under the old social care programs.

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