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Icom (UK) Ltd dealer, M-R-S Communications have recently established a NITENET radio surveillance system in Maidstone, Kent's County Town. The system based, on the company's successful STORENET scheme, is a joint collaboration between Maidstone and Malling Police, Maidstone Town Centre Management Initiative, Maidstone Borough Council, Kent County Council and Maidstone Businesses. The scheme, using Icom IC-F10/F20 two-way radios, has led to an improvement in night-time retail surveillance and has provided peace of mind for pubs, clubs and restaurants throughout Maidstone.

NITENET runs parallel with STORENET, a Police/Town Centre initiative that links Maidstone stores to the Police via radio so that officers and other shop managers can be alerted quickly and effectively of any problems ranging from troublemakers to lost children. This enables shop staff to be extra observant and offences can be prevented or offenders brought to book speedily and efficiently.

NITENET will work slightly differently, by linking the Police, town centre councils and Maidstone's night-based premises. It's aim is to keep all parties informed of individuals who have a potential to cause trouble, are drunk or are in any way undesirable. Consequently, they can be monitored and prevented from entering premises if necessary. Currently, 20 clubs, pubs and restaurants are signed up to this new scheme.

The process will allow evening town centre premises to be aware of possible problems, town centre CCTV to monitor individuals or situations and the Police to be pre-warned of potential trouble and its location. Although NITENET will not solve all the problems, it will certainly allow a closer and co-ordinated observance of problematic people or circumstances and will help all parties involved to work together effectively. This is a great initiative to further combat town centre crime, which in recent years have been continually driven down by a number of excellent operations and multi-agency security schemes.

Terry Fowler, Commercial Director of M-R-S is convinced of the need for systems such as NITENET to help reduce crime. Fowler says ‘NITENET has followed on from our STORENET scheme that is successfully operating throughout the country. With over 100 users on the Maidstone STORNET scheme, I felt that it was only a matter of time for this natural progression to a night scheme to come into force.'

When asked about the choice of equipment, Fowler explained why Icom’s IC-F10 family was chosen. ‘In this environment, you need something that is lightweight and unobtrusive, yet visible enough to work as a deterrent. With many clubs and restaurants now offering extended opening hours, it was also important to locate a radio with at least 12 hours of battery life. Simplicity is also important and the Icom features a red emergency button which, when activated, sends the identity of the retailer to all other radios in the system, alerting them to a situation. The microphone is then automatically activated for 30 seconds, allowing hands-free communication. The ‘live microphone’ is a unique feature, specially developed by M-R-S. The system also provides extra peace of mind for the retailer.

Maidstone Town Centre Officer PC Jim Watson said, 'This initiative will work to make Maidstone an even safer place to visit. The aim is to remove the source before it becomes a problem.' Asked about what the effect it would have on local pubs and clubs PC Watson added,' In the past if anyone caused a rumpus in a pub they would then move on to another pub and cause further trouble. However, because all the pubs and clubs listen in on the same channels they are immediately aware of any undesirables. This gives the duty manager or security operative the opportunity to turn them away before they enter their premises.'

David Spink of Maidstone Town Centre Management Initiative said, 'Again we intend to show that a partnership approach to problem solving will be successful. I am pleased to see so many of the towns businesses becoming involved.'

Ian Lockyer, Marketing Executive at Icom (UK) Ltd said ‘The STORENET system is a powerful format that brings whole communities together, co-operating and communicating again. I think that is pretty impressive! In addition, the flexible and adaptable nature of the schemes provide real solutions to the wide variety of problems towns and cities are trying to solve. I feel that NITENET is another positive answer to the problems of night-time security.'

Icom UK Marketing -

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