City retailers are set to get a whole lot more connected in the interest of safety and crime prevention.
Last week, the North Belfast District Police and Community Safety Partnership (NBDPCSP) unanimously agreed to supply £2,700 of funding to put in place infrastructure that would see local traders get connected by radio link.
The scheme was initially set up in the city centre to combat robberies, crime and anti-social behavior by sharing information and intelligence. It’s now being rolled out across Belfast.
Chair of the local policing body, Mary Ellen Campbell, said: “This imaginative scheme has proved to be effective in reducing crime in other areas and I’m glad to see it rolled out on a wider basis. Organised crime is a major concern for local people and for traders in particular and we must do all we can to assist them through measures such as this.
“Anyone providing goods, facilities, services or jobs to the community plays an essential role in improving our quality of life and we must invest in protecting them. Recent attacks on retail staff have been utterly unacceptable so the introduction of this scheme should go some way to making them safer and identifying offenders.”
The comprehensive retail radio surveillance package provides a two-way system linking participating retailers to each other, to the City Safe Officer, city centre representatives and the PSNI CCTV Control Unit.
The radio system enables traders to quickly pass on information on criminal activity, giving security staff the opportunity to be fully aware of their movements and descriptions.
Staff on the tail of criminals can remain in contact with other security staff who could provide assistance and the system also has a built-in panic button. If activated the identity of the user is immediately sent to all PSNI radios and a microphone becomes automatically activated for ten seconds, enabling a hands-free facility.
The proposal will see out-of-town retail centres like Yorkgate and others become part of the City Centre Radiolink Scheme. Centre Operations Manager for Yorkgate, Michael Langston, welcomed the move.
“Essentially the scheme extends what we already have as part of the city safe model and affords us on the periphery of Belfast to come on board and in line with police response,” he said.
“Police response ability has been some what limited in recent times due to cutbacks and this is an ideal opportunity to do some joined-up thinking and hopefully act as a deterrent to those looking to target retailers.”
The SDLP’s Pat Convery, a member of the NBDPCSP, said that the move was an important one for local businesses, particularly those suffering from shoplifting and loss of stock.
“This development will give traders the opportunity to be able to contact each other or pass on information about those intent on costing the trader money,” he said. “It will help to reduce any problems they have had in the past and we hope that traders will be able to use it to the maximum and assist police were there is habitual problems of criminality in local businesses.”