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Lowestoft follows Yarmouth's lead

PUBLISHED: 11:02 22 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:31 30 June 2010

Lowestoft businesses are being urged to work together to ban known shoplifters from all of the town's shops.

The scheme, which will launch on May 1, involves businesses submitting photos and details of thieves to a database for all retailers in the town to see.

Lowestoft businesses are being urged to work together to ban known shoplifters from all of the town's shops.

The scheme, which will launch on May 1, involves businesses submitting photos and details of thieves to a database for all retailers in the town to see.

The ban would last at least sixth months and would be outside the court system, to help businesses identify would-be shoplifters in a bid to tackle retail crime.

The system would also flag up details of people who cannot enter the town due to ASBOs or people who are missing.

The online link-up between shops that join the scheme, which is called Lowestoft Businesses Against Crime (LOWBAC), has already been a success in Great Yarmouth.

Suffolk Police said they have a range of measures to tackle persistent offenders and are now urging businesses to get involved with the latest initiative.

Police figures show that shoplifting in Waveney was down by 11pc last year, with 567 crimes between April 2009 and March 2010 compared to 634 from April 2008 to March 2009.

Sgt Steve Wright, of the central Lowestoft safer neighbourhood team, said: “Businesses will have access to the information to prevent crime, rather than us coming in afterwards.

“We will offer advice as necessary and work with retailers to continue to reduce crime.”

Paul Briddon, president of the Lowestoft and Waveney Chamber of Commerce, also encouraged businesses to group together against retail crime.

“Anything which can be done to reduce crime has got to be a good thing,” he said.

“It is about local communities helping themselves and working with police. The more people join the scheme, the more effective it will be.”

Gary Pettengell, founder and director of the not-for-profit social enterprise Empowering Communities, who are introducing the LOWBAC initiative, said: “I would encourage any business in Lowestoft to become part of the scheme.

“It gives them secure access to information 24/7 and it raises their awareness, so we are looking at maximising participation.”

An online system with passwords will link the businesses to a Lowestoft “excluded persons gallery”. People can also submit extra information about the person, for example if they were violent towards staff.

“Warning markers can be placed against each person's profile,” said Mr Pettengell. “People can pick out a degree of violence and use an open text box to explain further.”

Mr Pettengell said that businesses taking part would put up LOWBAC posters to show thieves that if their details have been submitted from one shop, each place participating in the scheme can see them.

LOWBAC is part of the national Secure Incident Reporting and Community Engagement System (SIRCS).

Businesses taking part in LOWBAC can serve shoplifters with a card saying You Are Banned, regardless of an eventual charge or conviction, which can be appealed against.

Jonathan Newman, Yarmouth's town centre manager, said using the SIRCS database had been of the factors for a 48pc reduction is shoplifting over the Christmas period, compared to last year.

“It's a very valuable tool, it's not necessarily going to do everything on its own but as a part of a number of measures to reduce business crime SIRCS is very useful,” he said.

A similar idea was rolled out before in Lowestoft, whereby police officers gave out exclusion orders from certain shops.

Businesses can join up by becoming a member of the Lowestoft Town Management Partnership, the retail arm of the chamber of commerce.

Call the partnership on 01502 502205 or visit www.townmanagement.co.uk


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