West Bridgford retailers have been provided with new radios in an initiative to tackle neighbourhood crime.
Safer Streets has funded a Shopwatch radio scheme in West Bridgford so that businesses can be in communication with one another and the police when prolific shoplifters are targeting the area.
The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner was successful in securing £3 million of Home Office funding through Safer Streets in July and has since been working with Nottinghamshire Police and local authorities across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire to implement the safety measures.
A total of £750,000 of this funding is allocated to the Nottinghamshire South area, to be spent in Netherfield and Colwick, in Gedling, Trent Bridge ward, in Rushcliffe and Eastwood South, in Broxtowe.
Thanks to this, 20 radios have now been purchased and shared across Rushcliffe Shopwatch members to ensure they have the resources available to them through partnership working between Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry, Nottinghamshire Police and Rushcliffe Borough Council.
One store which has joined the scheme is the Co-op in Central Avenue.
William Hall, a customer team member at this store and Chief of Shopwatch, said: “I enjoy the Shopwatch.
“I used to be part of Pubwatch before and we were the only shop that went along with the pubs in West Bridgford, so when the council asked if I wanted to start a Shopwatch I said yes.
“It helps to deter shoplifters because when you’ve got other shops shouting up and giving you descriptions of offenders, we can go and stand by the doors and they will see us and just carry-on walking by.
“You’re always going to get shoplifters, but this is a good start to stopping them.”
Michael Brown, team leader at the Hilton Crescent Co-op branch in Edwalton, said: “Our workers come in to serve the community, they come in to do a job not to get harassed. I won’t stand for it.
“One of the issues we have within our store is not being able to communicate with other stores if we see a shoplifter, so it will help a lot.
“With us being outside of the general West Bridgford area, it’s nice to know we have support within the town centre. It helps us track people and get more evidence.
“It has helped a lot in finding people. We’ve had more success in taking people to court since joining Shopwatch.”
Other stores located in West Bridgford have also joined up with the scheme such as Boots, Marks and Spencer, Asda, Peacocks and Oliver Bonas.
Kate Mason, assistant manager at Boots, said: “Over the Christmas period a lot of staff did feel threatened.
“We were having to put high value gifts out and I know a lot of the girls did feel threated, especially at night when it started to get dark.
“We were getting a loft of shop theft; they were dressed all in black with hoods up and it is quite frightening.
“Having Shopwatch in place will definitely help shop workers feel safer because it makes you more aware of things.
“It’s good to have somebody on board that can be vigilant and help other staff members be aware of what’s going on.”
PC Matthew Holden, Beat Manger for Trent Bridge and Musters, said: “West Bridgford Shopwatch is a community-led crime prevention initiative supported by Nottinghamshire Police and Rushcliffe Borough Council. Stores come together with the police to share information, intelligence and issue joint store banning letters.
“The funding of the Shopwatch radios adds an extra tool, to help retailers in West Bridgford to prevent crime and keep their customers safe.”
As well as the new Shopwatch scheme, additional safety boosts have also been put in place in the Trent Bridge ward area such as extra CCTV, street wardens and home security improvements like Ring doorbells and lighting.
Geoff Carpenter, Service Manager for Public Protection at Rushcliffe Borough Council, said: “This is part of the Safer Streets bid which is there to support local community safety in West Bridgford to make businesses and residents alike feel safe from crime.
“It’s a low crime area but this initiative is to make sure it stays that way.
“Since the introduction of the radios we’ve had two fantastic incidents that have been captured by the police that resulted in a very good arrest.
“So, in the short time we’ve had them, two or three weeks, we’ve had an arrest and some really good partnership work.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry said: “I want the public to feel safe, but I also want retail workers to be able to go to work without the fear of being harassed.
“It’s great to see that Safer Streets initiatives like Shopwatch are making people feel safer when they go to work as well as when they are out and about in town.”