FENLANDER: Two new partnership schemes launched to target troublemakers

SHOPS, pubs and other businesses from across Fenland have teamed up with Cambridgeshire police and Fenland District Council in a new umbrella partnership aimed at combating crime and anti-social behaviour.

They have signed up to membership of Fenland Business Against Crime (FenBAC), a new joint initiative designed to coordinate effective action to protect their businesses and promote community safety.

Representatives from 55 businesses took part in a series of training workshops organised by the council at the end of last month to introduce them to the scheme.

The workshops also marked the launch of Thumbs Up!, a parallel scheme involving licensed premises (see panel).

FenBAC seeks to coordinate the efforts of the existing PubWatch, ShopWatch, TaxiWatch and Business against Crime schemes that currently operate independently.

Once fully operational in January, it will be managed by business partners, with police and the council providing advice and guidance and ensuring the sharing of relevant information.

One of the scheme’s key elements is an information sharing system known as SIRCS (Secure Incident Reporting and Community Engagement System).

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It is an Internet-based network that enables its users to transmit instant alerts across the system. It means they can share images and descriptions of people acting in a suspicious, violent or abusive way with everyone on the network.

The training workshops were held in each of the four market towns. Speaking at the first one at the Boathouse in Wisbech, Chief Inspector Mike Winters, Cambridgeshire Police’s Fenland Area Commander, welcomed both schemes.

He said: “Projects like these really do help in targeting crime. The creation of the Fenland policing team has resulted in us being better aligned with our partners in the Community Safety Partnership and FDC.

“Fenland’s crime reduction figures over the past year show a massive drop of 18 per cent compared to the average of 3-4 per cent in other districts in Cambridgeshire. FenBAC and Thumbs Up! will help us build on that.”

Councillor David Oliver, chairman of the Community Safety Partnership and FDC’s portfolio holder responsible for community safety, said: “Working more closely together in this way is part of our wider strategy to reduce crime, particularly alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour, and to promote the local economy.

“It will help us detect more crime and bring more offenders to justice. The benefits are not only a district that is safer but also one that is seen to be safer.”

Each of the participating businesses has been given a comprehensive information pack giving advice to managers and staff on how to deal with all types of crime.