Retailers and shoppers in Matlock will be benefiting from boosted ShopWatch radio coverage after cash recovered by police was used to replace kit.
Derbyshire Constabulary retrieved an amount of money through the Proceeds of Crime Act and used £600 of it to cover the cost of new radio equipment.
ShopWatch radio is a scheme run by police and the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce, in which retailers communicate with each other and police to share information about theft or suspicious behaviour.
It has proved a valuable tool in helping police crack down on shoplifting in the town, with several thieves caught after shop staff alerted police about their crimes.
Now, retailers already signed up to the Matlock scheme will be able to replace parts of their radio kit or benefit from new kits altogether.
It means the reliability of the scheme and its usage across the town will be improved, making Matlock a safer place for shoppers.
Sergeant Nick Reason, who leads Matlock Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “Shoplifting is a problem that not only affects our retailers but also has an impact on our shoppers and those visiting the town.
We want Matlock to remain a safe place to head to and ShopWatch has proved its use time and time again, especially as more retailers sign up.
Now we have this funding boost, we will be able to spruce up the kit and make sure that direct line between the police and ShopWatch retailers continues to work as well as it has been.”
The Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) means anyone who profits from crime can lose the financial and lifestyle gains they have enjoyed.
Police can apply to the courts to have cash or other ill-gotten assets seized and sold, and use the money generated to pay compensation to victims of crime.
The money used for Matlock’s ShopWatch radio scheme has been spent on replacement batteries, aerials and other components, as well as new handsets.
One of the retailers who has been using ShopWatch to help shelve shoplifting in his store is Steven Fowkes, who manages Iceland in Causeway Lane.
He said: “ShopWatch has been great for us and it is having a positive effect on cutting shoplifting in our store because we use it regularly and have a good relationship with the police on the other end.
It helps us give our customers a safe place to come and shop and knowing that there is new kit to use if we need it is reassuring, too.”
Andy Watterson, from Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Crime remains a serious issue to retailers of all sizes and can have a significant impact on the economy in general, so it is absolutely crucial that shops do all they can to protect their premises, equipment, stock, staff and customers.
The Chamber is always happy to assist with any initiatives that help business communities support each other and ShopWatch is a great way for them to protect themselves against crime.”
For more information, call Matlock Safer Neighbourhood Team on 101.