Shopwatch - Tackling Retail Crime and Improving Community Spirit in Dover

Smye Rumsby already has high profile involvement with successful 'Shopwatch' schemes in Canterbury and Dover. Recent technological advances means that Smye Rumsby Ltd can now supply radio link, and in-house video equipment on very low rental agreements that include full maintenance. This means that every shop, business, pub and school, in both town centres, can benefit from this highly cost-effective scheme.

Dover 'Shopwatch' has been in place since autumn 1995 and is run together by shopkeepers, together with Police, Dover District Council CCTV and Town Centre Management. In a joint venture with Mike Webb at Dover's Town Centre Management Offices, Town Centre Constables; Ian Woodland and Alan Budgen, have been working with shop keepers to increase the effectiveness of the system. As a result an increased number of 'Shopwatch' radios have being distributed amongst participating stores throughout Dover, enabling a consistent link with Police and CCTV.

Mike Webb said that 'Shopwatch' in all it forms is an effective deterrent against retail crime and cited the effectiveness of the scheme in Maidstone which last year saw a 42% reduction in crime. He believes that 'Shopwatch' systems around the country have improved the trading environment for customers and the retail community. He listed a long list of benefits including increases in trade, reduced costs, cheaper insurance if you are on the scheme, and an improved community spirit. He also sees the scheme as an investment in a town's future, hoping that the revenue stream provided by the rental charge of the radios will allow the scheme to subsidise radios for other people who would not necessarily be able to afford them.

Local Town Centre Officer in Dover for the past two and a half years, PC Ian Woodland said, "Shopwatch is all about teamwork. Businesses rely on us to make arrests and reduce crime by bringing offenders before the courts. But with a bit of team effort, we can increase our results dramatically. Shopkeepers monitor events in the store and if they see someone acting suspiciously or witness a crime being committed, they contact us or CCTV centre using the Shopwatch radio. If a suspect leaves their premises, we are then in direct contact with CCTV who monitor the progress of a possible offender. It’s a good way of maintaining pressure on known criminals - a method that we know brings about excellent results. We often have evidence on Council or Store CCTV and we know who our witnesses are. Shopwatch is an extremely useful tool. The Shopwatch scheme and CCTV can take the credit for numerous arrests. They both provide an effective method of communication which will improve the area and press home the message to criminals that the town is a 'no go' area.

The Shopwatch radio system has increased the bond between traders, Police and the District Council in Dover. It has ensured that thieves and other criminals know that their activities are being monitored and it has also encouraged members of the public and local business people to take an active part in reducing crime. The system isn't just for the 'big boys', though. Membership ensures that information is passed quickly and effectively from a wide range of traders. Shopwatch is good news for everyone -except the criminals!"

Peter Riggs, of Dover District Council agrees. He says,' The CCTV control room provides the focal point for Shopwatch communications with retailers and Police. We are able to track possible offenders, co-ordinate Police response and alert other retailers to potential situations. For many shopkeepers and local businesses, knowing that support and help is available at the other end of the radio makes them feel safer and more secure.

From 1 April 1999 to 31 March 2000, 1534 positive assists have been made as a direct result of the Shopwatch, CCTV and Town Officer Partnership monitoring in Dover.

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