It’s a busy time in our fight against crime

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page -

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.

Pic­ture: Dave Downey PD1508988

Ch Insp John Frayne

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