A POLICE initiative has seen officers work with businesses to curtail anti-social and violent behaviour in south Essex.

Essex Police’s specialist Business Crime Team works with businesses through the ‘Open for Business, Closed for Crime’ initiative.

Businesses provide information through TownLink radio schemes in Basildon, Billericay, Canvey Island, Grays, Halstead, Lakeside, Leigh, Pitsea, Southend and Wickford.

Sergeant Christian Denning, of the Business Crime Team, said: “We can then work with them to identify and prosecute offenders while giving them crime prevention advice to improve security and reduce opportunities for criminal activity”

Partners in south Essex and ShopSafe have worked together to introduce TownLink schemes in the region.

Sergeant Denning added: “The TownLink radio system provides vital reassurance to retailers in towns which have it.

“They can alert each other to incidents and call the police if they require assistance.”

There are currently ten schemes in Essex towns and the city of Southend, involving more than 480 users, with more planned.

A TownLink system was set up on Canvey Island in August. Canvey’s Sports Direct store supervisor Ben Arnold received one. He had a TownLink radio in a previous job

Mr Arnold said: “TownLink’s great because it’s so easy to communicate with other shops and the police about any in-store issues, whether that’s people stealing things or causing vandalism or acting anti-socially.
“Although I personally never had to use it, I heard how useful it was from other shops.

“There was a case of indecent exposure - the store was able to get the police involved straight away and the problem was sorted.”

One of the business crime officers arrested a prolific shoplifter in Pitsea in the summer after she’d breached her criminal behaviour order just two days after being released from jail.

Sergeant Denning added: “He’d been talking to businesses about their TownLink system when he heard a call for assistance.

“Retailers kept him updated while he tracked her down before identifying her as subject to a criminal behaviour order and arresting her.

“She was jailed for another eight weeks.”

A TownLink system was set up in Grays a year ago and Grays Shopping Centre manager Mick Redfearn says TownLink allows him to communicate better with retailers within the centre and throughout the town as well as with the police.

Mr Redfearn added: ““It allows us to communicate more quickly and effectively on any crime-related incidents that are taking place throughout the town.

I think it’s great working with the Business Crime Team. I think they’ve brought a lot of benefits to the town centre in terms of the retail crime system and the TownLink radio system. We’ve got a close working relationship.”

Retailers in Halstead received TownLink radio sets last month. Jane Pryke, supervisor of QD stores in Halstead High Street, was one of them.

She said: “The radios will help all the shops in the town to liaise with each other much more easily and help us to prevent crime.

“We’ll be able to alert each other and the police, if necessary, and pass on descriptions much more quickly now if we spot anyone causing trouble or stealing in our stores.”

Will Garrod, operations manager for ShopSafe, which provides and maintains the TownLink service, delivers radio sets to retailers, accompanied by our business crime officers.

He said: “It's great to launch new TownLink systems. The radios provide businesses with a link to share vital information about local suspects instantly with each other and Essex Police.

“The TownLink systems introduced all over Essex have been a real success and it's great to work alongside Essex Police, who are taking such a proactive approach in addressing business crime.”