Staffordshire Police Federation has welcomed an anti-crime initiative which will see police officers offered free hot drinks.

Officers will be able to get free coffee and tea from Waitrose and John Lewis stores as part of an innovative scheme to cut down on shoplifting by creating a police presence.

Bosses came up with the idea in the hope that the sight of on-duty officers in and around the chain’s supermarkets and department stores will act as a powerful deterrent to would-be thieves 

And Staffordshire Police Federation chair Lee Robinson is sure members will take advantage of the offer.

He said: “I welcome the initiative, not least because we have a shortage of canteens in Force for anyone working away from the headquarters site. 

“I see this as a really nice gesture from the supermarkets and I hope our front-line officers manage to get five minutes to stop for a brew in between jobs.

“I think a visible police presence is important and anyone considering stealing from one of the shops might think again when they see a patrol car pull up outside.”

John Lewis Partnership, which owns both brands, has written to the Police Federation to say officers can make the most of the offer as long as they bring a reusable cup.

In Waitrose, police officers and community support officers will be able to get drinks from in-store coffee machines.

In John Lewis, police officers will be able to use staff cafeterias for breaks and will also be able to buy discounted food.

Head of security Nicki Juniper said having a police car parked outside might help cut crime.

Nicki Juniper, head of security for the John Lewis Partnership, said: “Retail crime is a national problem and requires a national solution.

“Just having a police car parked outside can make people think twice about shoplifting from our branches, or becoming aggressive towards our staff.”

John Lewis Partnership chair Dame Sharon White has written to Home Secretary Suella Braverman calling for tougher action against repeat and violent offenders.

The group has increased the number of security guards and is also training staff to stop and detain shoplifters.

The British Retail Consortium said shoplifting in England and Wales soared by 26 per cent in 2022.

Its crime survey found nearly 850 incidents were taking place every day, with staff facing physical assault and being threatened with weapons on some occasions.