Town radio scheme unveiled in bid to beat the burglars

Southwold PCSO Ben Hedley-Lewis outside the phone box where letters can be posted. Picture: Suffolk

Southwold PCSO Ben Hedley-Lewis outside the phone box where letters can be posted. Picture: Suffolk Constabulary. - Credit: Archant

Retailers in a coastal town have teamed up as they bid to reduce crime over the festive season and in the future.

A new pilot scheme has been launched in Southwold in the past week as retailers aim to beat the burglars by raising 'real time awareness' of any potential criminal acts.

The initiative comes after a number of shops and businesses in the town were targeted over the Christmas period in 2017.

With an increase in thefts from shops and a series of attempts to pass counterfeit bank notes, Southwold PCSO Ben Hedley-Lewis, of the Halesworth Safer Neighbourhood Team, has enouraged businesses to get involved in a town radio scheme.

PCSO Hedley-Lewis said: 'I have supplied some businesses with a radio in which they can communicate with each other to raise real time awareness of any potential criminal acts.'

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Keen to ensure that proprietors would be made immediately aware, should any business in the town be targeted by criminals, the scheme has already seen seven retailers in Southwold sign up to have a short wave radio with which to communicate.

'The idea being they let one another know if they've seen something suspicious or just been subject to crime,' PCSO Hedley-Lewis said.

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'There are, of course, much more than seven shops in the town, but it's hoped those with a radio will pass on information to neighbouring shops – with the town ultimately benefiting from small, independent businesses who look out for each other.'

The initiative started on Tuesday, December 18 and will initially be run as a pilot scheme to assess its impact.

PCSO Hedley-Lewis added: 'Those participating have warmed to the idea quickly and it's expected others will join in the future.'

This is not the first time Southwold has benefited from PCSO Hedley-Lewis' ideas.

Earlier this year he launched a new use for the town's decommissioned telephone kiosks by placing 'message boxes' in them.

This has been seen as an alternative way of passing on information – anonymously if preferred – to police.

The Southwold Community Letterbox scheme has been hailed a success.

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