Business owners have come together in a bid to crackdown on crime in Huntingdonshire’s town centres during the busy festive period.
Led by the Huntingdonshire Business Against Crime partnership (HBAC), two operations have been running to focus on keeping Huntingdon, St Ives and St Neots town centres safe.
Operation Sunrise, a partnership between retailers, cafes and licensed premises, has had a focus on shoplifting, street drinking and anti-social behaviour.
“From the end of September to the beginning of January is when it steps up for my retailers so we need to do more,” a spokesman for HBAC told The Hunts Post.
“The operation makes it easier for the retailers to stay that one step ahead so their minds are focused. They have stock rotations, staffing issues and seasonal things going on, so we aim to make it as prevalent in their minds.”
According to figures obtained by The Hunts Post, there were 905 reported incidents of shoplifting recorded across the county from October to December last year, with 938 reported incidents in the same three-month period in 2014.
Also, in an effort to keep high streets safe at night, a further campaign has been taking place, Operation Nightfall, which focuses on alcohol-related crimes, drugs and underage drinking.
“It is really important that we don’t blinker ourselves to what kind of crimes we are looking at and, from the business point of view, we want people to choose to come to
Huntingdon, St Neots and St Ives and feel safe,” the HBAC spokesman said.
“People might not be coming out at night because they don’t feel so safe or they have been into premises and they have seen somebody who is under the influence of drugs.”
The joint initiatives also involve Huntingdonshire District Council CCTV operators, BID Huntingdon, Pubwatch schemes and Cambridgeshire police. The initiatives will run until the beginning of January.
In a bid to stop repeat offenders, the HBAC team has been co-ordinating with the police to ensure all crimes can be followed up, even if the police cannot be present at the time or on the day.
“We are saying to the police ‘this is what we are doing, this is where we are going to be, any extra resources or targeted patrols that you can get in to assist us is great’,” added the HBAC spokesman.
“We need to make sure we’ve got the tools in place so that if there are no police available, we’ve got enough that retrospectively we will be able to deal with the crime.”
As part of Operation Nightfall, the team has also had sniffer dogs, and alcohol testers to ensure that potential offenders are deterred or caught.