Police unveil new shop policing scheme

A POLICE scheme that will see shopkeepers volunteer their staff to carry out patrols during working hours has been given a cautious welcome.Suffolk's Special Constabulary is todaylaunching the new initiative, which aims to keep town centres safe by reducing retail crime and anti-social behaviour.

A POLICE scheme that will see shopkeepers volunteer their staff to carry out patrols during working hours has been given a cautious welcome.

Suffolk's Special Constabulary is todaylaunching the new initiative, which aims to keep town centres safe by reducing retail crime and anti-social behaviour.

It is the first county force to launch Shopwatch following successful pilots run by the Metropolitan Police and West Midlands Police.

Town centre employers in the county are being asked to sign up to the scheme by allowing staff to volunteer as Special Constables to carry out police patrols during some of their working hours.


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They will work alongside regular officers, other Specials and Police Community Support Officers to deter theft and fraud, as well as discourage anti-social behaviour.

It is also envisaged that their presence will act as a reassurance for shoppers and fellow workers in the area.

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The initiative will come to Ipswich first, before being rolled out across the county.

Paul Clarke, a spokesman for Usdaw – the union for shop workers – said: "Anything that puts the safety of shop workers and shoppers at the top of the crime agenda is a good thing.

"However it can't be at the expense of not improving the security in stores and it cannot be used as a substitute for trained, full-time police officers patrolling Suffolk's retail centres.

"If they are properly trained and properly resourced they would have a very useful insight into the particular problems the retail industry faces.

"We will be monitoring the situation to make sure training is of the highest standard.

"We will keep an eye on it to make sure that they are not put in any danger through lack of training.

"We also don't want shopkeepers to leave their stores under-staffed."

Suffolk Special Constabulary Commandant Martin Ashburn said: "I have been impressed with the success of the two pilot schemes and I felt that we could adapt the scheme to meet the needs of Suffolk's town centres.

"Suffolk town centres are safe places to work and shop, but we do still suffer from retail crime and anti-social behaviour. These officers will be specifically tasked with tackling those issues and providing reassurance to the public."

The Ipswich Partnership is one of the organisations involved in the launch of Shopwatch and will also receive a Safer Business Award today.

Paul Clement, from the partnership, said: "The rolling out of the Specials' Shopwatch scheme is encouraging news and let's hope that it will be another key factor in reducing business crime."

Bob Feltwell, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: "The idea of Special Constables is well founded and anything that improves law enforcement in a community is welcomed.

"It's all voluntary. I would support anything that improves law and order and reduces the amount of claims or business crimes."

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