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Exclusion scheme is stronger than ever

PUBLISHED: 17:12 14 November 2008 | UPDATED: 21:47 05 July 2010

MORE than 200 shops and businesses in Lowestoft have teamed up with police to revamp a successful scheme in the town.

And in the busy run-up to Christmas, the Lowestoft Exclusion Order (LEO) initiative is sending out a warning to people - if you are caught stealing from any of these premises over the festive period you could be banned from all participating stores.

MORE than 200 shops and businesses in Lowestoft have teamed up with police to revamp a successful scheme in the town.

And in the busy run-up to Christmas, the Lowestoft Exclusion Order (LEO) initiative is sending out a warning to people - if you are caught stealing from any of these premises over the festive period you could be banned from all participating stores.

A joint venture between Suffolk Constabulary, store managers and security staff throughout the town's retail industry is currently in operation across the whole of Lowestoft - and they sent out an important message this week.

“The message is if people come to Lowestoft and commit crime, they can expect to be banned from all premises,” Sgt Steve Wright, the chairman of LEO told The Journal.

“We want people to be able to go out and feel safe as they do their Christmas shopping.”

The LEO scheme has existed for several years and was previously run by the Chamber of Commerce and Lowestoft Town Management Partnership.

But when the Safer Neighbourhood teams were launched, police chiefs held discussions about shoplifting in the town and what they wanted to do to reduce this.

With a revamped scheme, now administered by the Lowestoft Central Safer Neighbourhood Team, the take up amongst premises in Lowestoft has risen dramatically since it was revived in May 2007.

In the past 18 months, the scheme has been rebuilt to be simpler and more robust, according to police chiefs - and there are now 206 participating premises, with the Harbour and Kirkley wards, North Quay Retail Park and town centre all joining forces in the battle to beat the burglars.

All of these businesses - be it a leading national chain like Tesco and Asda, which are signed up locally, or restaurants and cafes - agree with the principles of the LEO's “banned from one, banned from all” rule.

The scheme bans people who have been dealt with by the police for any retail crime - such as shoplifting, anti-social behaviour in the shops, criminal damage or public order offences. It works on a three-strike rule and on the third offence the person is banned from entering all LEO premises for the period of 12 months.

Any breaches of the banning order will be dealt with and could lead to anti-social behaviour orders, civil injunctions or requests to the court to impose community punishment orders banning the person.

Bans will automatically be extended to a maximum of three years, while those individuals that are banned are monitored by Waveney CCTV, security and police.

“The retail industry suffers with high levels of crime across the country, however Lowestoft's figures are generally lower than in other areas,” Sgt Wright said.

“Currently no-one is on a full ban yet, but there are 42 people who are on stage one and two at the moment.”

In an effort to further reduce these low levels, police are continuing to work with the stores and are encouraging more businesses to come on board.

And in the build-up to Christmas, Sgt Wright said: “We do not tolerate thieves or people who cause problems and we will stand together on this issue. We want people to know that Lowestoft is not the place to commit crime - if you do, you face being banned from entering virtually every shop in the town.”

Any store that has not signed up to the LEO scheme can e-mail centrallowestoft.snt@suffolk.pnn.police.uk or contact the Lowestoft Central Safer Neighbourhood Team on 01986 835300.

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