Police in Spalding have launched a crackdown on shoplifting and town centre disorder during the run-up to Christmas.
Increased patrols are taking place in Market Place, Hall Place, Sheep Market, Francis Street and The Crescent to target shoplifters and people causing anti-social behaviour.
Operation Vivid will be staffed by Spalding’s own police teams, without drafting in officers from other parts of South Holland, who will concentrate on their own areas, including Crowland, Holbeach and Long Sutton.
Inspector Gareth Boxall, South Holland Neighbourhood Policing Inspector, said: “The month of December traditionally sees a significant rise in offences of shop theft within the town centre and Operation Vivid is our response to this.
“The public will see increased uniforms patrols in the town but, like a lot of policing these days, this is only one of the ways we will be tackling problems effectively and there are a number of other ways in which we will be preventing and detecting crime.
“However, I am conscious we continue to have problems with anti-social behaviour of various kinds both in Spalding town centre and elsewhere in the district.
The month of December traditionally sees a significant rise in offences of shop theft within the town centre and Operation Vivid is our response to thisInspector Gareth Boxall, South Holland Neighbourhood Policing Inspector
“For example, patrols in the town will focus jointly on targeting shoplifters but, as importantly, challenging those engaged in anti-social behaviour.
“It is also important to point out that we have not assigned officers from our other areas to police this operation.”
According to the Home Office-run Police UK website, more than 340 cases of anti-social behaviour and 270 shoplifting incidents were reported in the Spalding town centre area between October 2016 and September 2017.
During this period, the worst month for shoplifting was November 2016 (43), while anti-social behaviour hit a peak in May (46).
Insp Boxall said: “We have worked closely with Spalding and District Chamber of Commerce and its ShopWatch Coordinator, Stuart Brotherton, to develop this plan and together we will be advising and supporting the shops to improve their own security and do their best to prevent these crimes before they happen.
“Shoplifting can often be seen as a ‘victimless crime’ when it is not because the staff in the shops are the victims, first and foremost, often having to challenge these criminals themselves.
“The loss to the shops, whether big or smal,l has an impact on the livelihoods of those shopkeepers and it is right that the police tackle any significant influx or anticipated influx of any sort of crime.
“We also seek to try and address the causes of these crimes and work with our partners to help would-be offenders to overcome the problems that lead to their criminality, for example, alcohol or drug addiction and homelessness.”
Mr Brotherton, who works with at least 60 ShopWatch and PubWatch members in Spalding and Holbeach, said: “There’s always a spike in shoplifting at this time of year, but we have a very good network of shops and pubs in Spalding that are radio-linked.
“Shoplifting is certainly and reasonably well-contained and Operation Vivid will only boost that a little bit more.
“But I stress to all my shops that whilst I’m here to give them support and keep crime down to a minimum, partnership working is crucial and the shops must look at the preventive side of things as well.
“They should make sure their CCTV is working properly, keep alert and maximise the use of the radio link in order to talk to one another.
“Our job as ShopWatch members is to ttarget those offenders who we know are regular offenders so the criminal can see that they are doing their best to keep crime down in Spalding.”