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Charity shops tune in to radio link-up scheme in the fight against shoplifting

Posted on 6th November 2013


A radio scheme that gives charity shop workers a direct line to their local policing team is launching in Matlock in time for the Christmas shopping season.

Charity Watch works in a similar way to the town’s already established ShopWatch, with retailers contacting each other and police over the airwaves to report suspicious activity or crimes.

Ten of Matlock’s charity shops have already signed up for the scheme and have a specific phone tree to use in the event of a crime or suspicious incident.

Information can be passed quickly between the stores and to Sue Ryder Care, the manager of which has a radio to speak directly to Matlock police.

PCSO Tammy Bell-Heather, from Matlock Safer Neighbourhood Team, helped set the scheme up.

She said: “The very nature of a charity shop is to earn money to fund worthy causes and if someone steals from them, the damage can be devastating.

“Charity shops are as vulnerable to shoplifters as big high street chains, especially in the run-up to Christmas, but they often don’t have the security staff on hand, and the financial loss of theft can’t be quickly recouped.

“It’s vital that we do everything we can to protect them and that is the sole aim of Charity Watch – to encourage communication between themselves to share details of suspicious people and behaviour, and to have a direct line to the police station so we can be called out when they need us.”

The already established ShopWatch scheme is run by police and Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce, and requires retailers to pay a fee to cover the cost of kit and membership.

Charity Watch works slightly differently in that shops are linked together through the phone tree and to police via the radio at Sue Ryder Care.

It also allows Sue Ryder staff to hear radio messages from other retailers across the town, such as descriptions of offenders.

That radio, together with the subscription to the ShopWatch scheme, have been donated free of charge to Sue Ryder Care from the Chamber of Commerce.

Tracy Uphill, the manager at Sue Ryder Care, said: “Our charity shops have to have a united front against shoplifting if we are going to stop it.

“We do get targeted quite a lot because we stock new items as well as selling older ones, and when we do have a theft it can be damaging.

“We are all getting our volunteers on board to help make the scheme a success and I think it will be a great tool for us to guard against thieves, making us more vigilant along the way.”

Andy Watterson, BusinessWatch manager at the Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are very pleased to support the Charity Watch scheme in Matlock.

“Charity shops now constitute a larger proportion of the High Street than ever before and they are not immune from the recent increase in shoplifting.

“This initiative will enable these retailers to tap into the valuable intelligence circulated amongst the ShopWatch group and help them to reduce their losses due to theft.”

To find out more about the scheme, call Matlock Safer Neighbourhood Team on 101.

If you want to report a crime, call 101, 999 in an emergency or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Do you need a quick answer to a general question? Then we recommend you visit the national Ask The Police web site.