It’s a busy time in our fight against crime
by Ch Insp John Frayne CHRISTMAS is now less than four weeks away. The town centres of Ashford and Tenterden are already becoming busier. With the increase in shoppers sadly comes an unscrupulous element who take advantage of crowded shops and distracted shoppers to steal from both the shoppers and the shops. South Kent Police has launched a five-week operation to reduce crime during the festive season. Until Tuesday, January 5, police officers, police community support officers and student officers, supported by plain-clothes officers, will be on patrol in our town centres. CCTV operators will closely monitor shopping areas, car parks and cycle routes and help direct police resources towards suspicious activity. My officers will work with the police and local authority licensing office, publicans, clubs and off-licenses to enforce the safe consumption and sale of alcohol. Retailers will be kept informed about suspected criminals through the town network of Shopwatch radios, which can broadcast information to other retailers and the police. I strongly support this system, which has been a hugely successful tool in preventing and detecting crime. Only one retailer to my knowledge has stated that they did not much care what thieves got up to once they left their premises. The vast majority are happy to help each other and the police to more effectively target criminals. British Transport Police are taking part in the operation with extra patrols at main railway stations. I would relish the opportunity to have repeat offenders banned from shops and licensed premises as well as trains and buses in the district over Christmas. This may be something we could explore in the future. The economic situation and anonymity provided by crowded locations can cause criminals to target Christmas shoppers and retailers. A highly visible police presence working with partner agencies and stakeholders will target criminals and reassure law-abiding people throughout the period of the operation. Shoppers can also help deter crime by keeping their valuables safe, keeping purses secure and being aware of anyone who is around them. If you are suspicious, report your concerns to a police officer or police community support officer. Any shopkeepers with Town Net radios can contact us directly too. Have a peaceful and merry, but above all safe and secure, Christmas.
Ch Insp John Frayne