Bearwood Traders and Smethwick police have managed to secure nearly £6,000 for a digital radio system to link up shops in Bearwood to try to reduce crime in the shopping centre. The money will come out of a fund set aside by the police from the proceeds of crime to enable local communities to set up initiatives to reduce criminal activity.
Traders Chair Richard Marshall said, “We had an old analogue system in place, but with so many 'blind spots' it was next to useless. We had investigated a digital system but the cost of the handsets were prohibitive to many businesses working on tight margins. Bob Piper and myself spoke to Sergeant Cheryl Reed to see if we could bid for funding from the proceeds of crime, but there are so many people bidding for a relatively small amount of money, to be honest, I wasn't that optimistic we would succeed.”
“Cheryl said that this year there were 106 bids amounting to nearly a million pounds for a portion of the £90,000 available, and for us to get £6,000 out of that is terrific.”
Councillor Bob Piper said, “This is very welcome. The highest level of crime in Bearwood is around the shopping centre and these new handsets will enable traders to keep in touch with each other, and alert the police, when shoplifters and other suspicious activities are in the area. What we would like to supplement this is some form of CCTV to enable us to record street crime, and together with the traders we are investigating the possibility, but that is a whole lot more money!”