Shoplifters facing town centre-wide ban under Shopwatch scheme

PC Emma Taylor with Waitrose staff shortly after the Shopwatch launch

PC Emma Taylor with Waitrose staff shortly after the Shopwatch launch

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Bucks Free Press: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter

SHOPLIFTERS could soon face a ban from entire stretches of the High Street as Marlow’s Shopwatch scheme to crack down on the crime continues to grow.

PC Emma Taylor, who helps coordinate the town-wide network of communication and CCTV, told a meeting of business leaders that the successful project is helping deter criminals from other areas coming to Marlow especially to steal.

And with 17 shops and business having signed up to Shopwatch since it launched in December, PC Taylor said there are plans to ask members to flag up troublemakers they want banning from stores involved in the scheme.

She said: "We have always known that criminals come from far and wide to shoplift and because of this scheme we are catching more of them.

"This tells them it’s not worth the two hour trip down the motorway to come to Marlow and go into shops to steal from them as it’s not an easy target.

"Shopwatch is a good way to share intelligence, and we want to sit down with members and talk about certain people and see about banning them.

"If shops agree they want them banned we can send a letter to ban them from the whole of the town centre or individual shops."

Any bans would be civil orders, with the possibility of every shop in the scheme banning individuals from entering the premises.

These known offenders would then be trespassing, running the risk of being arrested for burglary if caught stealing while the ban is in force.

The Shopwatch system works by intelligence sharing between shops and businesses, which pass on information and warn others about known offenders or specific incidents of shoplifting.

Information then gets relayed to the police and a central CCTV control centre in High Wycombe so the culprits can be tracked down and arrested much quicker than before.

PC Taylor cited examples of larger stores such as Waitrose sending staff along to smaller stores in the town centre to help with reports of shoplifting and dealing with the culprits while police arrive on the scene.

One prominent founder member is Sainsbury’s, with staff member Debbie Armstrong addressing Marlow’s Chamber of Commerce this week to lay praise on the scheme.

She said: "We work together very closely with stores, especially Waitrose, to pass on new information we get. We know if we put a call out on the radio they will get it and can take action.

"I work late shifts and it’s so reassuring to feel there is support there and that someone is listening."

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