Shop Watch members on the Isle of Wight are to start using the internet to tackle crime in the Islands towns.
A new dedicated Shop Watch website, created by island-based company Fresh Start, went online this month.
It's designed to strengthen swifter communications between Shop Watch members, the police and partner agencies on the Isle of Wight
The Shop Watch scheme is about the sharing of information, empowering retailers and their employees to help stop crime, and ultimately reduce the loss of stock.
One of the project’s leaders is Hampshire Constabulary Isle of Wight-based Safer Neighbourhoods team police constable, PC Stuart Ross. "Hampshire Constabulary wants to make the most of technology so we can protect the people we serve from those who would cause them harm. We know retail staff are not just up against shoplifters, they can also come face-to-face with organised thieves, caught quickly by police after high-profile crimes against businesses here in recent years.
"Shops are an integral part of the community because of their contribution to the local economy and people’s livelihoods. We’re always grateful to businesses for their co-operation in sending a clear warning to criminals that their activities will never be tolerated on our island."
The Isle of Wight Shop Watch website allows members to exchange information securely online so any suspicious behaviour can be reported, crimes prevented, and criminals identified, arrested and prosecuted. Visiting businesses on the beat is an important aspect of local visible policing, and police want to maintain an active presence in every neighbourhood by focusing officers in the right places at the right times. Online reporting is another option for shop staff, who can still phone police on 101 when it’s less urgent than an emergency call to 999.
The online service also aims to reinforce trust and confidence between businesses, police and partner agencies in ensuring awareness and understanding about changes in the law and regulations.
David Lunn from Fresh Start said: "This has been an exciting project to work on and I've been privileged to be involved from the early stages. Hampshire Constabulary has helped produce a facility that all businesses, from the largest supermarkets to the smallest corner shops, can use to help keep shops safe for staff and customers. The hard work of all involved, especially PC Stuart Ross, who has driven this project forward, will be of benefit to all members of the Isle of Wight Shop Watch as they share information efficiently in a new way."