Cardboard cop on the beat

Take a good hard look at this picture of a Norfolk bobby on the beat at a computer store - all is not as it seems.

Take a good hard look at this picture of a Norfolk bobby on the beat at a computer store - all is not as it seems.

The uniform is right, so is the steely gaze. But this particular policeman will not be running down the street to catch the crooks.

For this is just one of a number of life-size cardboard coppers which have been stationed in stores around King's Lynn over the festive period.

And shops say they have helped cut the expected Christmas crimewave.

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One store was Morrison's supermarket, where a spokesman said: “As part of a local police scheme, Morrison's Kings Lynn had a cardboard policeman in-store over the festive period and found it to be a very effective deterrent. The life-like figure certainly make people look twice and we've had lots of positive comments from customers.

“The local scheme shares the cardboard policemen throughout retailers in the area and we'll definitely be welcoming him back in the near future.”

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The initiative is one which has been used up and down the country including Southwold, which used eight cut outs which were slightly larger than life copies of four local PCs.

However, one shop said there had been a problem with the cutouts getting damaged quite easily and having to take some time off sick while they were repaired.

But a Norfolk police spokesman said last night: “Shop theft is a constant issue for retailers across the country and it traditionally does increase during the festive period.

“We are always looking for new and innovative ways to tackle shop theft.”

Yesterday one “officer” was at work at PC World in the town.

“The employees have certainly enjoyed having a new member of staff with them,” a spokesman said.

“The officer does have a great presence and it's been good to have him around.”

The officer has also been at the Boots store in King's Lynn, Tesco and Sainsbury's. He is due to visit T J Hughes in the near future.

David Holder, stock control manager at Sainsbury's said: “It has been a positive thing and certainly worthwhile. We have not had any negative comments.”

Cardboard cutout policemen have been springing up at shops, and even hospitals, all across the country. But there has been criticism with some groups saying they would still rather see real officers. Two cutouts were used at the York Hospital emergency department to stop violence towards staff.

And a cutout policeman in Belper, Derbyshire, had succeeded in cutting shoplifiting from 36 incidents a month to just one - until the cutout itself was stolen.

Police in Bradford expressed fears that the cardboard officers would be mocked and would reduce public confidence in the force and have protested against their use by local shops. However, a year-long trial in Tyne and Wear saw shoplifting fall by 70pc.

In December there were 67 incidents of shop theft in King's Lynn town centre.

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