Bourne businesses work together to beat crime
South Kesteven District Council is joining forces with the police and Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce to crack down on crime and make town centres safer.
The council-backed Business Watch, which launched in Bourne on Monday, will improve security in shops, pubs and offices.
SKDC is the main supporter, with participating businesses joining the scheme.
Bourne has been chosen for the trial, which is expected to be rolled out to other towns in the district, and more businesses are being encouraged to get on board.
Cabinet member for Retail and Visitor Economy, Coun Nick Robins (Cons) , said: "We are supporting this financially for the first two years.
"By the third year it will become self-sufficient through uptake from traders.
"Once we start getting results, people will see that it works and we are asking more businesses to sign up to make it even better.
"Scheme members, police and CCTV can share information with each other to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.
"It is all part of our overall aim to make our towns a strong destination to live, work, study, visit and invest in, and we can achieve this through security, safety and peace of mind for visitors and businesses alike."
Chamber of Commerce membership manager, Justin Pover, said: "Members will be able to radio in information about suspicious or antisocial activity, although if a crime is being committed they will be urged to call 999.
"CCTV will then monitor what is happening and the police and their community support officers will also have access to the radio system.
"This has been shown in other Lincolnshire market towns to be a deterrent once people know what's going on.
"For instance, if someone shoplifted in one premises and was banned from the store, they would be banned from all on the scheme and their picture will be circulated to enforce that.
"The businesses are all signed up to a privacy and data sharing agreement to enable this to happen."
The scheme will also help lone workers, with the aim of creating a community feel, so that no one need feel alone or isolated while they are at work.
For an annual membership fee of £120+VAT, businesses get access to an app-based walkie-talkie system provided by the Chamber of Commerce which can be accessed from any phone or tablet.
There will be regular meetings to discuss progress, best practice, crime trends as well as exclusions from stores.
Posters and window stickers will be displayed by members of the Business Watch scheme, alerting any would-be offenders to the risk of being caught and banned.
Any businesses interested in joining should call 01522 846930.