Shop theft cut plan success

Police and local town centre business people re-launch Shopwatch in Pontefract town centre.'Pictured: PCSO Becki Norbury with, in the background, Catherine Oakes, Victoria Julian, Felicity Hicks, Stephen Staton, Keith Dowell.'p305a349

Police and local town centre business people re-launch Shopwatch in Pontefract town centre.'Pictured: PCSO Becki Norbury with, in the background, Catherine Oakes, Victoria Julian, Felicity Hicks, Stephen Staton, Keith Dowell.'p305a349

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A scheme to cut shoplifting in Pontefract town centre in the run-up to Christmas has been hailed a success in its first two weeks.

Since Pontefract and Knottingley safer neighbourhood team (SNT) launched the scheme, there have been six arrests, with four charged with offences relating to theft.

Sgt Alan Studd said: “Our work is focused on both reducing crime and in supporting offenders in beating the causes of their criminal behaviour – whether this is alcohol or drug related.

“I would say to those considering coming into Pontefract to steal to think again. Officers are targeting those we know to be involved in shop theft.

“We are working with store security in asking them to leave shops prior to them being able to commit crime. Our CCTV system is excellent and we can track people as soon as they enter the town centre.”

Officers from the SNT have been working with local shops to cut crime as part of the scheme, including increased use of Shopwatch radios, making changes to shop layouts and setting up ‘cocoons’ of shops to provide support to each other.

They are also assisting shop security staff in asking known offenders to leave stores before any crime can be committed, which officers say has led to a significant reduction in crime in shops.

Sgt Studd added the number of uniformed and plain clothes officers on patrol within Pontefract would increase in the run-up to Christmas.

Keith Dowell, store mangaer of Wilkinsons, said: “The increased presence of police officers is welcome addition by residents, the Wilkos team and retailers in the Pontefract community.

“The local police force has already established a great partnership with retailers to deter criminals and this is a huge step in reducing crime and making our streets safer.”