Durham City’s ShopWatch initiative has received a major boost after a cash investment by the local City of Durham Parish Council.
ShopWatch has been operating in Durham City in one form or another for some time now. The scheme has developed further since November 2022 through the work of the PCSO for Durham City Michael Ashurst and both the Police and daytime economy businesses in Durham are keen to continue this work.
ShopWatch is a partnership network of businesses in Durham City, linked by radio to each other and the police and includes the crime partnership software called SentrySIS. This scheme operates in most major cities, towns and shopping centres across the country, and collaborating with local councils and the police, ShopWatch has a purpose to deter and ultimately assist with the prevention of antisocial behaviour within public spaces as well as increasing personal safety and confidence amongst many retailers and their customers.
Key aims of the Durham City ShopWatch scheme include:
• To tackle and prevent retail crime and anti-social behaviour through effective communication and the prompt reporting of retail crime, anti-social behaviour and criminal activity.
• To promote a sense of security for customers and staff.
• To improve police/licensee liaison by providing effective communications through two-way radio.
Since ShopWatch began developing in November 2022, Durham has noted a reduction in shoplifting crime within the City. This has had a positive impact on local businesses by decreasing losses of stock as well as creating a safer environment for customers. Having a live form of communication between businesses and the police is clearly central to the success of this scheme.
ShopWatch meets at the end of every month and this is an important network of businesses which is well-attended and where feedback can be provided to the Police by retailers and the Police can also share intelligence to retailers (e.g. recent banning orders for individuals found guilty of an offence, etc.).
The scheme is now set to be expanded further with a total of 54 retailers in the City centre now signed up to ShopWatch. The Council’s funding will provide a further 14 licensed radio sets to some of the smaller independent businesses in the City. These businesses have expressed an interest in being part of this scheme and it is hoped that supporting businesses with the hire costs for a radio set for a 12-month period will incentivise them to continue with this scheme into the future. This will also allow businesses to assess the radio link while protecting their business by using the radio. Each business signed up to ShopWatch is also invited to sign up for the SentrySIS system.
In addition, Inspector Dave Clarke has also been successful in securing additional officers to cover the City centre and residents and businesses have noted an increased visible police presence during the day.
Chair of the City of Durham Parish Council, Coun. Alan Doig (pictured) said: “The Parish Council is delighted to work in partnership with Durham Police and our Police and Crime Commissioner Joy Allen as part of this excellent ShopWatch initiative and to fund this scheme for a period of 12 months. The provision of these additional radio sets will help to increase the coverage of the scheme across the City, thereby making this safer for businesses and visitors as well as growing the network of small businesses actively engaged in public safety within the City.”
He added: “One of the key aims of the Parish is to promote the daytime visitor economy of the City. Our message to anyone arriving in Durham to carry out a crime or commit anti-social behaviour is simple – you are not welcome here.”
Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Joy Allen (pictured) welcomed the investment by the Parish Council. She said: “its fantastic to see shop watch going from strength to strength in the city. Seeing partners working together, proactively sharing vital intelligence is obviously helping to prevent, deter and detect crime. I commend ShopWatch members and partners for helping to keep our City safer, stronger and more resilient to crime, drugs and anti-social behaviour.”
Any retailers in the City who wish to sign up to the ShopWatch initiative should contact PCSO Michael Ashurst via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org