The City of Durham Parish Council and Police and Crime Commissioner have welcomed official figures this week which show a 69.3% reduction in shoplifting crime in the City since the launch of the City’s successful ShopWatch initiative.
Earlier this year, the City’s ShopWatch initiative received a major boost after a cash investment by the Parish Council as part of efforts alongside the Police and Crime Commissioner Joy Allen to stamp out daytime retail crime. The Council’s funding has provided licensed radio sets to some of the smaller independent businesses in the City.
Although ShopWatch has been operating in Durham City in one form or another for some time, the scheme has developed since November 2022 through the work of the PCSO for Durham City Michael Ashurst.
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.
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 official figures show that since June 2023 and the expansion of the ShopWatch initiative, the City has seen a total reduction in shoplifting crime of 69.3%.
To date, almost 60 retailers in the City centre have now signed up to the ShopWatch scheme. Each business signed up to ShopWatch is also invited to sign up for the SentrySIS system.
Chair of the City of Durham Parish Council, Coun. Alan Doig (pictured) said: “We very much welcome these figures which clearly show that the City is becoming more resilient to this form of daytime crime. Earlier this year, the Parish Council was delighted to work in partnership with the Neighbourhood Policing team, our Police and Crime Commissioner and local businesses to fund the ShopWatch scheme. It is great to see that this investment has had such 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.”
He added: “One of the major 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 news. She said: “this level of success can only be achieved through effective partnership working and the establishment of excellent communication channels. These give members the confidence to share information and intelligence with each other to combat crime and deter shoplifters. ShopWatch’s collective efforts are undoubtedly helping to create a safer, stronger and more resilient city and I commend all those involved.”
Chair of the City’s ShopWatch initiative Phil Hope said: “The City’s ShopWatch initiative has been a tremendous success and it is great to see these official figures back this up. The investment and partnership working through this initiative by local retailers, the Parish Council, Durham Police and our Police and Crime Commissioner is really so welcome to all of us trading in Durham City. This just goes to show that the City is fighting back against anyone who comes to Durham to commit crime 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: email@example.com