Police in northern England are facing rising crime levels because it has been harder hit by the recession than the South, a chief constable has said.
Justine Curran, in charge of Humberside Police, said evidence showed shoplifters were stealing essential items such as food due to the impact of the economic downturn.
She said the poorest areas of Humberside showed the biggest rises in crime, which backed up her theory.
She said the latest crime figures showed a North-South divide, with rising numbers in the North and falling or stable statistics for the South.
The Chief Constable said: "We have done intelligence interviews with criminals suggesting that acquisitive crime like shoplifting is moving towards a focus on the theft of essential goods like food.
"Statistics support the fact that upturns in crime are being experienced in the North while levels in the South are remaining static, if not falling.
"We are not looking for excuses, but it is important that we understand the drivers of crime and that is why we have looked into the possibility of the recession hitting harder in the North, leading to these increases.
"We certainly know that in our area the biggest rises in crime have been in higher deprivation areas."
Her statement followed an interview with the Yorkshire Post newspaper in which she discussed the crime figures and said: "I am not an economist, but people would tell you the impact of recession and austerity has been felt more strongly in the North."
A Home Office spokesman said: "Under this Government, overall crime is down by more than 10%, according to both the independent Crime Survey and police recorded crime.
"The evidence is clear - police reform is working and crime is falling.
"It is for chief constables to make sure all appropriate action is taken against crime in their areas and police and crime commissioners to hold forces to account on behalf of local people."