Radio schemes keep businesses and police in touch to help keep you safe
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Business crime officers, Grays Shopping Centre manager Mick Redfearn and Thurrock Deputy Mayor Councillor Qaisar Abbas discuss the benefits of setting up TownLink in Grays
Supporting local business owners and staff to help prevent them, and their customers, from becoming victims of crime is the job of our specialist Business Crime Team.
Through the Open for business, closed for crime initiative, they encourage staff and customers to report anti-social and violent behaviour to us.
This information enables our business crime officers to identify emerging issues and work with businesses to mitigate risk.
“We can then work with them to identify and prosecute offenders while giving them crime prevention advice to improve security and reduce opportunities for criminal activity.” Sergeant Christian Denning, of our Business Crime Team
One of the ways the team does this is by working with local partners and ShopSafe to introduce TownLink radio schemes which can help retailers to prevent shop thefts and anti-social behaviour.
“The TownLink radio system provides vital reassurance to retailers in towns which have it. They can alert each other to incidents and call the police if they require assistance.” Sergeant Christian Denning
There are currently ten schemes* in Essex towns and the city of Southend, involving more than 480 users. More are planned and Christian says:
“We are always happy to hear from councils and business leaders who would support a system being set up in their town.”
A TownLink system was set up on Canvey Island in August. Canvey’s Sports Direct store supervisor Ben Arnold received one. He had a TownLink radio in a previous job and says:
“TownLink’s great because it’s so easy to communicate with other shops and the police about any in-store issues, whether that’s people stealing things or causing vandalism or acting anti-socially. “Although I personally never had to use it, I heard how useful it was from other shops. There was a case of indecent exposure - the store was able to get the police involved straight away and the problem was sorted.”
Christian says one of the business crime officers arrested a prolific shoplifter in Pitsea in the summer after she’d breached her criminal behaviour order just two days after being released from jail.
“He’d been talking to businesses about their TownLink system when he heard a call for assistance. Retailers kept him updated while he tracked her down before identifying her as subject to a criminal behaviour order and arresting her. She was jailed for another eight weeks. “This really shows the value of the system.”
A TownLink system was set up in Grays a year ago and Grays Shopping Centre manager Mick Redfearn says TownLink allows him to communicate better with retailers within the centre and throughout the town as well as with the police.
“It allows us to communicate more quickly and effectively on any crime-related incidents that are taking place throughout the town. It also helps us to improve our response time. “I think it’s great working with the Business Crime Team. I think they’ve brought a lot of benefits to the town centre in terms of the retail crime system and the TownLink radio system. We’ve got a close working relationship.”
Retailers in Halstead received TownLink radio sets last month. Jane Pryke, supervisor of QD stores in Halstead High Street, was one of them. She says:
“The radios will help all the shops in the town to liaise with each other much more easily and help us to prevent crime. We’ll be able to alert each other and the police, if necessary, and pass on descriptions much more quickly now if we spot anyone causing trouble or stealing in our stores.”
Will Garrod, operations manager for ShopSafe, which provides and maintains the TownLink service, delivers radio sets to retailers, accompanied by our business crime officers. He says:
“It's great to launch new TownLink systems. The radios provide businesses with a link to share vital information about local suspects instantly with each other and Essex Police. “The TownLink systems introduced all over Essex have been a real success and it's great to work alongside Essex Police, who are taking such a proactive approach in addressing business crime.”
*TownLink schemes are currently running in: Basildon, Billericay, Canvey Island, Grays, Halstead, Lakeside, Leigh-on-Sea, Pitsea, Southend and Wickford.
Open for business, closed for crime
We recognise that incidents of violence towards public facing staff sometimes go unreported.
We want to raise confidence in reporting these incidents, ensure the best possible investigations are completed, deter offenders and support victims.
Violence and abuse should not be tolerated and we are working with partners in the private sector to support retail staff who are victims of such crimes and to prevent them by providing businesses with crime prevention guidance.
We want retail and hospitality staff who are assaulted or abused for simply doing their job to report it to us so we can investigate and bring offenders to justice.
Essex Police Business Crime Team
Our Business Crime Team specialise in supporting businesses, working to build relationships with independent shops and retail chains, explaining how they can report crime to us and, just as importantly, what will happen when they do.
They help to identify risks in the workplace, providing crime prevention, fraud and cyber-crime advice and strengthening links with businesses and partners, including local community safety partnerships, Essex Chambers of Commerce and the Essex Federation of Small Businesses.
Working with the National Business Crime Centre, the team share nationally-identified crime trends and best practice with our business community. And they have also developed a comprehensive guide to business crime prevention which identifies steps business-owners can take to protect themselves and their properties.
If you see something which you feel needs police attention, or you have information about a crime, anti-social behaviour or criminal activity, ring 999 if it is an emergency or a crime in progress, otherwise you can report it online where you can also speak to an online Live Chat operator on weekdays between 10am and 9pm. Alternatively, you can ring 101.
You can also contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, online or by calling 0800 555 111.