CCTV credited with fall in Gorleston crime

SPY cameras are among the security measures credited for a massive fall in shoplifting in Gorleston town centre last year.

Figures revealed retail crime was 40pc lower on the town’s High Street in 2010 compared to the previous 12 months.

Crime has fallen every year since the CCTV system was introduced to the busy shopping hub more than four years ago.

Coverage has since been extended to Gorleston sea front, and funds are being raised for an additional camera on the High Street.

A successful Coastal Crime Watch scheme has also been set up with 54 businesses signed up, including leading retailers Tesco, B&Q and Argos.

The web-based scheme, which also covers Gorleston, Southtown and Cobholm, Belton and Bradwell, enables businesses to share information about crimes and ban offenders. Anyone convicted of shoplifting, attempted shoplifting or unreasonable behaviour in the crime watch area is banned

Both initiatives have been spearheaded by PC Jason Howell, a member of Gorleston’s Safer Neighbourhood Team.

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PC Howell received the Community Officer of the Year award at the 2010 Norfolk Safer Community Awards in recognition of his achievements.

“This is the best crime figure recorded in my seven years of being community officer for the town,” he said.

“Hopefully, this will be down to the Gorleston SNT, introduction of Crime Watch, extended use of the town link radio and town centre security meetings.

“Also, the involvement on a daily basis of volunteers who offer their valuable time to manage and run the CCTV cameras in the town centre.”

He added: “We are now looking for support for the forthcoming installation of an eighth camera situated at the top end of the High Street, near to Copland Bakery, giving further coverage.

“Money has already been donated through Wilkinson’s Helping Hands appeal. And we are looking for further funding to make this project a reality.”

Previously the largest town in Norfolk without CCTV coverage, the Gorleston area was seen as a soft target for criminals.

A number of cases are currently going through court where CCTV footage is being used as evidence for offences. The sea front camera has been fully operational since October.

This has already captured several incidents outside the Ocean Room.

More volunteers are needed to join the team studying images from the cameras at the CCTV control centre in Gorleston.

New members should be able to work at least three hours a week, preferably on afternoons or Saturdays. For more information, email enquiry@gorlestoncctv.