Southwold traders are uniting in a bid to stamp out crime

It may boast some of the lowest crime figures in Waveney.

But that is not stopping Southwold shopkeepers from waging a war against criminals – thanks to a new community watch scheme.

More than 70 businesses throughout the town have come together to create a network of communication that allows them to quickly spread a warning if a crime occurs.

The Shop Watch Scheme is the brain child of Southwold and Reydon PCSO Amy Wegg who wanted to create a system that allows traders to support each other, as well as keeping a watchful eye on crime.

The 29-year-old, of Woodbridge said: 'The constabulary supports all sorts of community watch schemes and it used to be that what they would do is take posters of known shoplifters around to different businesses. But when I was looking through the posters, there was not many that were relevant to Southwold. So, I decided to encourage the businesses to set up their own Shop Watch Scheme.

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'I wanted it to be something they could do themselves when a crime occurs in the town. They can ring around everybody who has signed up and hopefully stop people who are offending.

'The uptake so far has been good and people are very supportive of it. I think it is good for shops that they are all looking out for each other.

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'It helps for the police to be involved, to build better links with the business community as well. When people know what is happening in their community then they feel more secure.'

Guy Mitchell, chairman of the Southwold and District Chamber of Trade, said the scheme has helped unite 77 business. He said: 'This is a great initiative taken by our local police, which helps to bring traders together and help build a more secure environment for everybody.

'There has already been some calls alerting us to suspicious behaviour, which is helping to make shopkeepers aware.'

In the period between September 25 and October 30 this year, only four crimes were recorded in Southwold compared to 14 in 2010.

? If you want to get in touch with Southwold's safer neighbourhood team, then call Suffolk Police on 101.

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