Storenet hits its century
THE 100th business has signed up to Weston's award-winning Storenet scheme, which has helped cut crime dramatically in the town centre and saved the traders millions of pounds. Storenet and Nitenet, set up in January 2005 by Weston Town Centre Partnership
THE 100th business has signed up to Weston's award-winning Storenet scheme, which has helped cut crime dramatically in the town centre and saved the traders millions of pounds.Storenet and Nitenet, set up in January 2005 by Weston Town Centre Partnership, allow business owners to warn each other about troublemakers through radios, which are also linked to the police and North Somerset Council's CCTV control room.Broody in Waterloo Street was the 100th shop to join the Weston Business Crime Reduction Initiative (WBCRI).Anyone shoplifting or causing trouble can be banned from every store signed up to the network as well, as the 34 pubs and clubs from Nitenet.Members of the scheme meet every five weeks to share information and talk about offenders who have caused trouble. They then decide who to ban from the shops, pubs and clubs. Dave Gwynne, co-ordinator of the scheme, said: "The idea is to force the troublemakers out and make life hard for them. It's excellent, we gather intelligence to try to put a stop to shoplifting and antisocial behaviour."The radio is also a bit of a lifeline, particularly for women running shops on their own. There's a panic button and if there's any trouble help will be there in minutes."The scheme, which won a Weston Safer Shopping Award, is proving an effective deterrent. In its first year there were 33 people on the excluded list, last year the number was down to 18.Town centre manager Steve Townsend said: "Most people who shoplift are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Figures show heroin users need to steal £80,000 worth of goods a year and sell them on to feed their £14,000-a-year-habit. When we had 33 people on the excluded list, the initiative saved businesses £2.6million."When a decision is taken to ban someone, information about the offender is added to a database and photos from CCTV images are handed out to every shop and pub so staff know who to watch out for.The ban lasts a year and if the offender has not caused any problems during that time they are taken off the list.Businesses in Worle and Marchfields Way have also set up their own Storenet scheme, which is linked to the town centre members so information can be shared between stores.In November members of the scheme also joined the Avon and Somerset Business Crime Reduction Group so they can talk to Storenet members in other areas including Bath, Bristol, Bridgwater, Frome, Yeovil, Glastonbury, Taunton and Shepton Mallet, to try to stop travelling criminals from targeting shops across the counties.Dave said: "The scheme is a real success. We thought we were going to stop after 80 businesses but it just keeps growing."It costs businesses £7 a week to become a member. Anyone interested in signing up can call Dave on 01934 417117.