Offending itself can be a form of play. Mrs Timpson illustrates this pattern.
She was repeatedly arrested over many years for shoplifting. Almost invariably the items stolen were clothes which she could return and claim a cash refund. At each arrest, she seemed to ‘come clean’ about the extent of hidden offences, but the pattern would soon begin again. She had many children, whom she would involve in the thefts, so that as time went on, the risk of them being taken into care grew steadily. The supervising officer was struck both by Mrs Timpson’s level of ability and intelligence, which was a good average, and by her lack of emotion and lack of apparent concern. Interviews would be preoccupied with the extreme poverty in which the family existed, and with the management of debt and social security problems which persisted unchanged over some years of regular help. Eventually, Mrs Timpson was arrested for several hundred offences, and her children were taken into care. Whilst she awaited trial, her contact with the children was minimal, and she showed little positive interest in their placements and progress. This was despite the fact that over the years, she had taken almost sole responsibility for their care. Her husband was much less available, more obviously emotionally inadequate and seemingly unable to make significant relationships with the children.