Cardboard coppers on the beat

CRIMINALS have been warned to be on their guard after the latest crime fighting device was unveiled - life-size cardboard coppers.

James Hore

CRIMINALS have been warned to be on their guard after the latest crime fighting device was unveiled - life-size cardboard coppers.

The dozen “static policemen” will be deployed at shops and garages in the Colchester area during the next few weeks in a bid to tackle shoplifters and drivers who leave without paying for fuel.

Last night, a local security expert, Ken Rogers, raised doubts about the effectiveness of the cut outs.

But the man behind the plan, crime reduction officer Colin Stiff, said he was confident they would work and warned would-be criminals they should be aware of the cut outs.

Essex Police are currently working to cut crime by an extra 5% and Mr Stiff said the new recruits would help bring a short and sharp impact.

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However, he was keen to point out their deployment across the district would not lead to a cut in the number of officers out on the beat.

The life-size models, which will “watch over crime”, are in supermarkets, shops and petrol stations across the district and follow on from 12 static recruits who were recently put to work in the Tendring area.

Mr Stiff told the EADT: “To the community and shoppers, the message is one of assurance and the message to the criminals is 'be aware'.

“They will work - static decoy cars on garage forecourts work and you don't get drive offs when they are there.”

He predicted the officers, who began work yesterday, would only be in action for the next two to three weeks before people get used to them and the benefits decrease.

“Their presence is an instant deterrent to any would-be thieves who catch sight of one of our bright yellow jackets and their use by other police forces has proved a value in the reduction of crime.

“However, they are not in any way a replacement for the work of police officers and Police Community Support Officers, simply an extra tool to aid crime reduction,” he said.

And Sergeant Dave Gillies, from the Colchester town policing team, said he had high hopes of success.

“This really is another link in our armour for us.

“We continue to work hard to drive retail crime down even further with high visibility patrols and close work with local businesses. The static policemen will be an excellent addition to what we already do,” he said.

Mr Rogers, of Wivenhoe, said: “Where is the evidence that these things work? They have been stolen before.

“The public wants to see fully trained police officers that can be approached on the beat and I think this is an unnecessary gimmick.

“I just cannot see that it will work.”

james.hore@eadt.co.uk