Smye Rumsby - Battling Against Rural & Retail Crime!

Smye Rumsby - Battling Against Rural & Retail Crime!

Radio communications specialist, Smye Rumsby are providing an effective deterrent against the criminal element targeting high streets, schools and rural areas in the South East. Using predominantly Icom radio communication system, the company's efforts are providing peace of mind and a high level of security for users in all its schemes.

Shopwatch - Tackling Retail Crime and Improving Community Spirit in Dover
Smye Rumsby already has high profile involvement with successful 'Shopwatch' schemes in Canterbury and Dover. Recent technological advances means that Smye Rumsby Ltd can now supply radio link, and in-house video equipment on very low rental agreements that include full maintenance. This means that every shop, business, pub and school, in both town centres, can benefit from this highly cost-effective scheme.

Dover 'Shopwatch' has been in place since autumn 1995 and is run together by shopkeepers, together with Police, Dover District Council CCTV and Town Centre Management. In a joint venture with Mike Webb at Dover's Town Centre Management Offices, Town Centre Constables; Ian Woodland and Alan Budgen, have been working with shop keepers to increase the effectiveness of the system. As a result an increased number of 'Shopwatch' radios have being distributed amongst participating stores throughout Dover, enabling a consistent link with Police and CCTV.

Mike Webb said that 'Shopwatch' in all it forms is an effective deterrent against retail crime and cited the effectiveness of the scheme in Maidstone which last year saw a 42% reduction in crime. He believes that 'Shopwatch' systems around the country have improved the trading environment for customers and the retail community. He listed a long list of benefits including increases in trade, reduced costs, cheaper insurance if you are on the scheme, and an improved community spirit. He also sees the scheme as an investment in a town's future, hoping that the revenue stream provided by the rental charge of the radios will allow the scheme to subsidise radios for other people who would not necessarily be able to afford them.

Local Town Centre Officer in Dover for the past two and a half years, PC Ian Woodland said, "Shopwatch is all about teamwork. Businesses rely on us to make arrests and reduce crime by bringing offenders before the courts. But with a bit of team effort, we can increase our results dramatically. Shopkeepers monitor events in the store and if they see someone acting suspiciously or witness a crime being committed, they contact us or CCTV centre using the Shopwatch radio. If a suspect leaves their premises, we are then in direct contact with CCTV who monitor the progress of a possible offender. It’s a good way of maintaining pressure on known criminals - a method that we know brings about excellent results. We often have evidence on Council or Store CCTV and we know who our witnesses are. Shopwatch is an extremely useful tool. The Shopwatch scheme and CCTV can take the credit for numerous arrests. They both provide an effective method of communication which will improve the area and press home the message to criminals that the town is a 'no go' area.

The Shopwatch radio system has increased the bond between traders, Police and the District Council in Dover. It has ensured that thieves and other criminals know that their activities are being monitored and it has also encouraged members of the public and local business people to take an active part in reducing crime.

The system isn't just for the 'big boys', though. Membership ensures that information is passed quickly and effectively from a wide range of traders. Shopwatch is good news for everyone -except the criminals!"

Peter Riggs, of Dover District Council agrees. He says,' The CCTV control room provides the focal point for Shopwatch communications with retailers and Police. We are able to track possible offenders, co-ordinate Police response and alert other retailers to potential situations. For many shopkeepers and local businesses, knowing that support and help is available at the other end of the radio makes them feel safer and more secure.

From 1 April 1999 to 31 March 2000, 1534 positive assists have been made as a direct result of the Shopwatch, CCTV and Town Officer Partnership monitoring in Dover.

Shopwatch - Tackling Retail Crime and the Tourist Capital of Kent
The Canterbury scheme is identical to the scheme run in Dover and has 45 users in the scheme using Icom IC-F10 radio transceivers. Major High Street Retailers, the City Centre Policing Unit, the City Warden and the Canterbury CCTV unit are linked to this scheme.

The scheme has grown rapidly and now stretches the length of the major thoroughfare from the old Bus station to the Westgate Towers in what is arguably one of the busiest cities in the United Kingdom. City retailers now have a method of very quickly alerting other shops in the area to the activities of shoplifters who may target their stores. Additionally, the local police are able to monitor the channel and respond instantly if needed.

Barry Beckingham, Security Liaison to the scheme, believes that the system gels together and offers real benefits to its participants. He said, “Shopwatch has been a pro-active tool and has helped reduce crime in the city, as well as offering an overall benefit to the community”.

There are real indications that crime has been reduced because of the scheme, as stock losses have dropped all over the city. Retailers feel more confident knowing that if they call for help, they will receive immediate backup from other shops and the Police, with live monitoring from the CCTV system.

Paul Jess, a Systems Engineer at Smye Rumsby, believes that the scheme has tremendous benefits for users. “The system provides retailers with an overwhelming feeling of security and co-operation”. His company offers full support for retailers, including supply of the radio system, staff training in radio procedure, replacement and repair of equipment (within ½ an hour if needed) and comprehensive technical support.

Shopwatch management meetings are run bi-monthly. Issues discussed at these meetings range from voice procedures to experience gained from other schemes, such as the system in Dover. As a result, radio procedures have improved and operators are now able to give clear descriptions of suspects to other users. This has allowed security staff to monitor and apprehend offenders very quickly.

Nick Betts, Director of Nasons and the Chairman of the Canterbury City Centre Initiative, said “Shopwatch has brought extra security to city retailers, who now feel at ease with the system. Increased communications through use of the radio system has improved co-operation among shop-owners and their staff.”

To assist retailers, the Police supply members of the scheme with photographs of active local criminals and others who target stores in the area. This enables shop staff to identify potential offenders and alert all members of the scheme to their presence and location. Inspector Ray Carver, Community and Crime Reduction Co-ordinator, said, “This scheme has significantly benefited police operations and offender targeting, enabling us to work with the retail community to reduce stock loss and arrest offenders who target the City. Canterbury, like all major Cities, is a magnet for travelling criminals and this scheme enables us to respond very quickly to suspicious incidents reported by retailers. The scheme has also been used to launch the Safe Child Initiative, which aims to quickly reunite lost children and their parents. The potential for improved community safety is limitless.”

Ruralwatch in Rye.
The recent incident in Wolverly, a quiet village in Worcestershire highlights the need for an effective security policy for small rural communities. Richard Watkins, a village postmaster was attacked by a group of armed assailants and defended himself at gunpoint causing one of the assailants to die of an inflicted stab wound. Instances like this illustrates the need for a security scheme to be in place for rural residents (especially now that the village bobby is now such a rarity). A Ruralwatch scheme such as the one that Smye Rumsby has launched in Rye is probably the most effective option for effective rural security.

Initially, Rolvenden council, who run the scheme, will use 20 Icom IC-F20 handheld transceivers and a talkthrough base station. The scheme is really is at its foundation stage and it is hoped that it will eventually cover a wider area incorporating Camber Sands and Chelsea Beach.

Rye is typical of most rural towns where buildings are separated by some miles. The scheme will allow any member of the scheme to identify any suspicious behaviour and inform other residents, shopkeepers and Police. And because the Police are usually 20 minutes, at best, from an incident this proactiveness may save a life one-day.

Paul Jess said, 'that the success of schemes such as the one in Rye is down to the fact that if anything goes wrong with any of the equipment that his company can provide a replacement within a couple of hours. Other systems don’t have this sort of after sales service. Instead shopkeepers from other schemes are forced to wait long times for another replacement unit from a manufacturer.'

Paul added,' that's why Icom radios are used. They have an extra warranty, are value for money and have a high level of reliability. Icom radios are very dependable. If the Icom IC-F10 is used in the high-risk construction industry then there is no reason why it shouldn’t be dependable in any retail outlet.'

Farmwatch…a Solution to a Hot Political issue?
It is not only in the towns and the cities that Smye Rumsby and its radio systems have been successful. With the recent media attention over the Tony Martin case, a man who was convicted of killing an intruder on his farm, rural security has once again become a hot political issue. Issues brought up by this case have struck a chord with many farming communities.

Rural crime is on the increase and farmers who are struggling to earn a living wage have to look at cost-effective solutions to protect their livelihoods. Farmers have real concerns over their own safety, their stock, machinery etc and are constantly looking for solutions to safeguard their assets. Cost effectiveness is an important part of the solution because reduced prices of cattle; strong competition and the increase in overheads have critically affected farmer's livelihoods.

Smye Rumsby has provided one such solution in a 'Farmwatch' scheme set up on Romney Marsh. It has been running for a couple of years now and is self-managed by the farm owners themselves using Icom IC-F1010 mobile transceivers and IC-F10 handportable transceivers. Members of this ‘Farmwatch’ use radio communication equipment to communicate amongst themselves if they see anything suspicious or feel that their security is being threatened. According to Paul Jess, 'Farmwatch has improved the confidence of all its users and has increased the level of community spirit.'

The Potential of Radio Security Schemes?
Shopwatch has a great potential according to Paul Jess in Schools, Nightwatch. Paul said,' the Shopwatch scheme has brought a number of benefits to places like Dover and Canterbury and has improved the shopping environment for the general public and has provided a better environment for parents to bring up their children.' Paul sees further opportunities for the system and suggests, 'pubs at night could benefit from being part of such a co-ordinated scheme by providing a high level of security, which could be targeted during trouble spots such as closing time.' He also mentioned that 'schools could be brought into the scheme with the extension of CCTV providing an added level of security for schoolchildren and also to act as an active social tool in cutting down on truancy and vandalism.'

Ian Lockyer, Marketing Executive at Icom (UK) Ltd, manufacturer of the radio communication equipment said, “It is great to see how successful all the Smye Rumsby schemes are. Icom has supplied equipment to many similar schemes all over the country and we have received nothing but praise for the contribution they make to personal and community security.”

26/10/2000

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