New search for special people

IPSWICH businesses are set to be encouraged to take part in a scheme which will see staff become special constables working for Suffolk police.

IPSWICH businesses are set to be encouraged to take part in a scheme which will see staff become special constables working for Suffolk police.

The force is preparing to relaunch its ShopWatch scheme, which aims to increase safety on the streets of the town centre by raising the number of special constables treading the beat.

The scheme was first launched in 2005 and encouraged companies and retailers to allow their staff to train and serve as so-called Specials for a certain number of hours each month, while still being paid by their employers.

Employers were said to benefit from the scheme by having better trained staff and a safer town centre.

Next month, Suffolk police will invite town centre firms to hear more about the scheme in the hope they will get involved.

ShopWatch has attracted some success nationwide, with major retailers like Debenhams, Marks and Spencer and Ipswich-based AXA giving it their backing.

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A Suffolk police spokesman said: “It's a positive scheme for both Ipswich police and retailers for the summer shopping period and beyond.

“It is yet another step in partnership towards safer streets in Ipswich.”

The force said that by taking part in the scheme, employers would become active partners in the policing of Ipswich town centre.

When trained, special constables would work alongside regular officers and police community support officers (Pcsos) and other special constables.

The ShopWatch initiative aims to deter theft and fraud offences and discourage anti-social behaviour affecting the town centre.

It is thought they also act as reassurance for shoppers and other workers in the area.

Special constables have the same powers as police officers but they are restricted to their county.

The Ipswich relaunch of ShopWatch is due to be held at Debenhams on August 7.

For general enquiries about the Special Constabulary, call Suffolk police's recruitment helpline on 01473 613656.

What do you think can be done to make Ipswich town centre safer? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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