Shop Watch Radio scheme planned for Fenland town aims to make people feel safer
A new Shop Watch Radio scheme is to be launched in Wisbech to help make shoppers and retailers feel safer.
The move comes after Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority approved a grant of £33,800 at its meeting on Wednesday (27) for Wisbech Town council to re-introduce Shop Watch.
A bid drawn up on behalf of the council by clerk Terry Jordan explained: "A recent report considered by the Fenland Community Safety Partnership shows that around two-thirds of people do not feel safe in Wisbech."
The proposal to implement a new (digital) Shop Watch Radio scheme aims to make shoppers and retailers feel safe and secure in the town centre - "thereby leading to a sustained positive impact upon both the local economy and community well-being".
Mr Jordan said: "It is anticipated that the implementation of such a scheme would help to “drive-down” the fear of the public and retailers in relation to anti-social behaviour and petty crime in the town centre.
"It is known that there are relatively high levels of shoplifting and petty crime within shops in Wisbech.
"Town centre stores tend to no longer employ security staff (for economic reasons) and dealing with such incidents is, understandably, a low priority for the Police - there are generally, no longer police officer patrols across the town.
"A new Shop Watch Radio scheme would provide a 'short-cut' route to the local policing team when incidents take place."
The scheme would also mean Fenland District Council’s CCTV service could be alerted to the presence of “offenders” in the town’s shops; furthermore, other shops could be given the “heads up” via the radio system.
The Wisbech and District Chamber of Commerce has, historically, operated a Shop Watch Radio scheme but the was a system was “overtaken” by technology and is no longer in operation.
The aim of this project is for Wisbech Town Council (WTC) to introduce a new “state-of-the-art” system (which would be future-proof), to be administered, on behalf of WTC, by Wisbech and District Chamber of Commerce.
Re-starting the Shop Watch Radio scheme would contribute towards safety and future investment in the town centre by:
providing a direct link between businesses and Fenland District Council’s CCTV control
room in order to identify offenders;
providing a direct link to the local Policing team;
linking businesses on the scheme together, making information sharing easier in order to reduce crime;
improving the perception of safety for shoppers, visitors and residents; this all contributes towards increasing footfall;
discouraging potential offenders;
giving a very positive impression to potential businesses looking to invest in the town.
Wisbech and District Chamber of Commerce would work in partnership with the Town Council by administering the scheme. The previous Shop Watch Radio scheme, which was administered by the Chamber of Commerce (for approximately 20 years), was very successful but ceased because of equipment failure and costs to change the scheme from analogue to digital.
As the new scheme would be digital, this will enable the inclusion of businesses across the whole of Wisbech, including the retail parks.
The town council will procure the supply/installation of a new radio base station, a UHF Repeater and 100 radios and also a five years maintenance agreement for the “package”.