New Forest residents have been given peace of mind that they can shop safely, thanks to the ShopWatch scheme.

Since it was launched in 2008, Lymington ShopWatch has helped with the conviction of a number of offenders in the town, leading to a marked decline in the rate of shoplifting and other crimes, such as purse thefts.

Shoppers have noticed a real difference when they visit Lymington, Pennington and Brockenhurst. There is also a separate ShopWatch scheme successfully running in Totton.

Lymington ShopWatch now has more than 100 members from the retail sector and more than 70 have signed up to an information-sharing agreement with the police. This enables the police to provide the shops with posters showing the photo, name and date of birth of people who have been excluded from entering the ShopWatch stores for a specified period of time.

In addition, more than 20 members subscribe to the StoreNet radio network, which is linked to New Forest District Council’s CCTV operating centre inLyndhurst.

Through this network, alerts can be quickly circulated amongst the ShopWatch members and the NFDC controller can monitor events, feeding images live to the police control room. Local beat officers PC Ian Cross and PCSO Wilson also carry StoreNet radios when on duty in the town centre.

The Safer New Forest Partnership has recently funded 1000 ShopWatch window stickers which will raise the profile of ShopWatch, provide reassurance to the public and deter criminals from shoplifting and purse thefts.

New Forest Chief Inspector Tony Rowlinson said: “I am pleased that both the Lymington and Totton ShopWatch schemes are operating successfully in theNew Forest. Look out for the ShopWatch sticker in your local shops. ShopWatch and its dedicated members are having a positive impact in keeping down the levels of shop crime and this should reassure members of the public when they are out and about.”

For information about the work of the Safer New Forest Partnership visit: www.communitysafety.newforest.gov.uk or contact Stephanie Bennett on 023 8028 5588 or email stephanie.bennett@nfdc.gov.uk

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