Local security officer, deputy manager of Waitrose Tonbridge and Gary Smith of Safer Towns Partnership study computer screen
Local security officer, deputy manager of Waitrose Tonbridge and Gary Smith of Safer Towns Partnership study computer screen

Scheme enables retailers to share information about potential offenders

A council grant is enabling the upgrade of a radio system used by Tonbridge retailers to share information and help combat crime in the town.

Businesses who take up membership of the Safer Towns Partnership are provided with radios which are linked to other member businesses, the borough’s CCTV control room, the Safer Towns co-ordinator and the police. The £8K upgrade to a new digital system will extend coverage further to include businesses outside of the centre of Tonbridge. 

The partnership is able to collect information from members about people committing crimes, such as shoplifting, and anti-social behaviour in the town, which is then published onto a secure website where all members use it to take steps to protect themselves, their staff, and their customers.

The partnership operates an exclusion scheme, so that any criminal or anti-social behaviour offender in or near to a member’s premises is barred from all similar scheme member’s shops and businesses.

With more than 30 businesses and organisations signed up to the partnership in the High Street area alone, their aim is to reduce business crime and fear of crime through increasing membership and range of the scheme and assist in creating a safe and welcoming environment for those who work, visit, or socialise in Tonbridge town centre.

Cllr Des Keers, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council’s Cabinet member for community services, said: ‘We want people who are living, working in and visiting Tonbridge and Malling to feel safe and secure as they go about their day. This partnership with retailers helps ensure that happens and funding the digital upgrade of the radio system will be a big benefit to all users.

‘I hope that many more retailers in the area will join the partnership so that everyone will benefit from wider coverage of the system.’

Simon Matthews, deputy manager of member organisation Waitrose Tonbridge, said: ‘We’re hugely supportive of the Tonbridge and Malling Safer Towns Partnership, which makes a real difference tackling crime locally.  

‘We stand with other members to reduce the impacts of crime and will continue to support in any way that we can.’

Gary Smith, Safer Towns Manager, said: ‘Shoplifting is never a victimless crime and can have drastic effects on businesses and their staff.

‘Members of the partnership equipped with the new digital radio system can share real time information to ensure a co-ordinated response to individuals who seek to commit crimes against our members’ businesses or staff.’

Published: Thursday, 23rd June 2022