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Cut out bobby has thieves on run

PUBLISHED: 15:06 28 November 2008 | UPDATED: 12:25 03 July 2010

DETERRENT: Sharon Howchin with her cut out police officer in Peacocks at Market Gates.

DETERRENT: Sharon Howchin with her cut out police officer in Peacocks at Market Gates.

Dominic Bareham

HE can't talk, he can't move and he certainly can't make arrests…. but a glance in his direction could have would-be shoplifters racing for the exit.

Meet the cardboard cut out police officer, the latest initiative from Great Yarmouth police in the fight against shoplifting during the Christmas period - and soon to be coming to a High Street store near you.

HE can't talk, he can't move and he certainly can't make arrests…. but a glance in his direction could have would-be shoplifters racing for the exit.

Meet the cardboard cut out police officer, the latest initiative from Great Yarmouth police in the fight against shoplifting during the Christmas period - and soon to be coming to a High Street store near you.

And at 6ft 6ins tall there is little doubt this picture of a stern faced officer cuts an imposing presence on the shop scene as customers enter Boots and Peacocks, the two shops in the town centre that have so far appointed cut-outs to keep a watchful eye.

But a deterrent against crime?

Yes, according to Peacocks store manager Sharon Howchin, who has seen the number of thefts from her Market Gates shop fall by 20pc since her cardboard PC arrived last Wednesday.

Since then, he has been placed in various parts of the shop, but is mostly being used near the underwear section which is hidden from the rest of the premises by a pillar, and therefore considered particularly vulnerable to shoplifters.

She was approached by the police to trial the scheme, which could now be rolled out to other stores in the town centre.

Mrs Howchin said: “To be honest we do have issues in the store and we are really pleased we now have this extra security.”

She believed the cardboard PC forced criminals to have a double take and made them think about the crime they were about to commit.

Lorraine Broughton, operations manager at Boots, took delivery of her PC on Tuesday and she was optimistic he would have a similar effect at the Market Place store.

She said Boots store had problems with shoplifting during the school holidays and the PC would compliment the existing security measures on the premises, which included store detectives.

Staff at the Boots store have also been participating in restorative justice programmes whereby offenders who have committed crimes have to atone by picking up litter around the shop or putting stock away in the warehouse.

Miss Broughton said: “I think it is a good idea and if it works, it is brilliant.”

PCSO Jason Osben, of South Yarmouth Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT), explained the cut out PCs had been used successfully in Norwich and had reduced shop crime by 20pc so the SNT had decided to try them in Yarmouth.

He believed they had a psychological effect on the criminal by providing a visible presence and making them consider their actions.

The cut-outs are available for a 10-day period in the run-up to Christmas and will be moving on to other stores in the town centre after finishing at Boots and Peacocks.

Any shop wanting to use the cut-outs should get in touch with South Yarmouth SNT by calling 0845 4564567.


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