Crime fight over the airwaves

Piers Capjon of Apple Bikes with a St Annes town centre shop radio.

Piers Capjon of Apple Bikes with a St Annes town centre shop radio.

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SHOPKEEPERS in St Annes have been urged to make sure they are tuned in to the fight against crime.

The town’s Chamber of Trade has been concerned to hear of an increase in incidents requiring police involvement in parts of the town centre in recent weeks.

A 32 per cent rise in crime in Central Ward in August compared to the same period last year included 13 thefts and 12 incidents of criminal damage, while in addition there were 46 incidents of anti-social behaviour.

Now, as police resolved to drive the figures back down, the Chamber wants to make sure that all store owners are aware of the innovative and successful radio alert scheme in operation in the town and to make sure it is ready for use as and when required.

“We were concerned to hear that the crime figures in Central ward rose during August,” said the Chamber’s co-ordinator Arnold Sumner.

“It is good to hear that police are doing everything they can to bring the figures back down but we have heard of a number of incidents recently involving businesses and we would urge traders to be sure to use the radio alert scheme if required.”

The scheme, which links traders to other shops and to the police, was one of the first in the country when it was introduced some 10 years ago and has proved a success in generally helping drive down crime.

The radios can be obtained by traders from communication specialists Radio Shack in St Annes Square and are co-ordinated from a central point by the Chamber.

“It provides an early warning system which is vital in the fight against crime,” added Mr Sumner, while one shopkeeper added: “We noticed a huge difference, particularly in shoplifting rates, from about a year after the radios came into use.”

August’s Central ward crime figures were also up 24 per cent on July and community beat manager PC Mike Schouteten told the latest meeting of the town Central Police and Communities Together (PACT) forum that an increase in patrols had already been introduced in a bid to repeat the success of Operation Alleyway some years ago.

Wood Street and St Albans Road were highlighted as particular problem areas and PC Schouteten said: “We certainly have ideas on how to tackle this (increase in crime) and are determined to bring the figures down.”