‘Shop local... support us on Saturday’

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This Saturday, shop locally and take comfort in the knowledge that your high street is safer than ever before.

New schemes which target shoplifting, anti-social behaviour and street drinking could see Wakefield’s city centre become safer for all, and the projects have been implemented just in time for Small Business Saturday.

The national campaign encourages consumers to shop at their local stores rather than online, or at larger chains.

Sarah Jones-Morris is one of a collective of artists who sells her handmade gifts at Made and Found in The Ridings.

She said: “People come in to somewhere like this and they like the fact that it’s something different, and unique.

“Without the support of people coming into the shop, we wouldn’t be able to exist.”

And as thousands of people are expected to visit the city centre this weekend, two new schemes promise to work together to protect the public.

The Shopwatch initiative sees retailers given radios linking them with each other and the police, allowing them to share information quickly when thieves are seen committing crimes in the city.

It allows police to pass information to shop security staff about potential suspects.

Retailers who have signed up to the scheme have also agreed to ban anyone caught shoplifting from their store for 12 months.

The work has seen shoplifting offences fall by 40 per cent in the past year.

Inspector Helen Brear, of Wakefield city and north west neighbourhood police team, said: “We are really pleased to now be implementing this Shopwatch scheme.

“Shopwatch schemes can have a real effect in helping stores protect themselves against thieves and in providing intelligence to us about shoplifters operating.

“Initiatives such as the new 12 month banning procedure for suspects from stores will also helpfully provide a welcome extra deterrent factor.

At the same time, West Yorkshire Police have partnered with city centre retailers to drive down street drinking with a unique tactic.

Officers are now working with shops in the city centre on the crackdown to DNA tag cans of high-strength alcohol.

Six retailers have signed up to the pilot scheme, allowing police to mark cans of alcohol on sale which are seven per cent strength or above with a high-tech tagging solution.

If cans are then found on the street, or in possession of street drinkers, officers can trace where they were bought by placing them under an ultraviolet light.

Since it was launched, West Yorkshire Police said there has been a 60 per cent fall in the number of fines issued for street drinking.

Elizabeth Murphy, manager of Wakefield BID, which has backed the scheme, said: “We were keen to support the police’s good work on this project as helping to tackle street drinking is one of our priorities after listening to our levy paying businesses.

“All cities face it, but we want to support the responsible authorities to tackle it head-on and significantly reduce the impact it has on businesses, visitors and residents over time.”

Turn to page 24 for your seven vouchers and get a discount when you shop locally this December.