Shops work together to drive down crime

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Twenty-three people will not be welcome in Spalding shops this Christmas.

Their faces are in a picture gallery of mug shots showing who has been barred for committing crime and anti-social behaviour.

This is Business Watch – and ex-cop Stuart Brotherton is using his 30 years’ experience in the police force to help drive down retail crime in the town.

Mr Brotherton, who retired as Spalding police sergeant earlier this year, took the part-time position of scheme co-ordinator for Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry in August.

Based a few doors away from his old office at the police station, he said: “When I took the position it was clear the scheme needed reinvigorating.

“I’m really pleased with how it’s going – there are now 25 shops in the scheme.

“What’s more they are keeping in contact with each other. More than 20 of them hire radios from us and log in with CCTV volunteers each morning.

“It’s excellent seeing member shops using their radios and sharing information.

”We’ve already had five or six people detained as a result of member shops doing just that.”

Nationally, the cost of crime to businesses has risen this year by 15.6 per cent to an overall cost of £1.6 billion.

According to the British Retail Consortium, in spite of more investment in protecting businesses there has been a significant reduction in the number of offences being reported to police.

Mr Brotherton said: “It’s difficult to measure the success locally in statistics because not all incidents involving items of little value are reported to police.”

Steve Shephard, manager of Robert Goddard in Vine Street, has been a member for six months.

He said: “We already had one shoplifter convicted and jailed as a result of the partnership with Business Watch, PCSOs and the team here.

“We’re very happy we joined.”

Joining the scheme costs less than £10 a week, including £3 to rent a radio.

Mr Brotherton said: “That’s a small price to play if it stops someone stealing a trolley load of goods worth £150.

“With the investment in CCTV, a thriving Business Watch and our partnership with the police and other agencies the future is really bright for businesses in the town.”