Security clampdown in Woodbridge shops

SHOPLIFTERS dodging Ipswich's state-of-the-art surveillance system are to be targeted in a security clampdown in Woodbridge.Plagued by a summer crime spree, shops in the quiet market town are to be linked by a new radio system.

SHOPLIFTERS dodging Ipswich's state-of-the-art surveillance system are to be targeted in a security clampdown in Woodbridge.

Plagued by a summer crime spree, shops in the quiet market town are to be linked by a new radio system.

Ipswich's wall-to-wall CCTV coverage is being blamed for shifting shoplifters to crime patches elsewhere.

Boots manager Jenny Lloyd called the recent crime wave in the picturesque town "colossal".

She said: "CCTV cameras in Ipswich and Colchester have driven people into the towns that don't have cameras."

This week up to eight shops including Woolworths, Notcutts and Boots will be issued hand held radios linking them to each other and to the police station.

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One retail manager, who asked not to be named, said: "I used to work in Ipswich and I recognise a lot of the gangs from Ipswich. We don't have any security in the shop and we have seen a lot of shrinkage recently, especially in the clothing section."

PC Robin Pivett , who spent the last three years getting the system up and running, said: "We are hoping other companies in Woodbridge will bolt on to the scheme. We are experiencing a few gremlins with the radio mast at the moment but we hope to have the system running soon."

He will spend the next few days coaching shop staff on how to use the radio link.

He said: "If one shop has experienced a problem they then call others on the radio link describing the offenders. They are then encouraged to keep a running commentary going while a police response unit is mobilised. We are hoping the system will prove as effective as a 999 call."

Retailers hope the radio link will be a stop gap measure on the road to CCTV cameras in the town, a move turned down by the Home Office last year.

Stowmarket was the latest Suffolk town to install 11 security cameras at a cost to the Home Office and district council of £287,000.

But cameras in Woodbridge cannot be introduced until the £230,000 cost is met plus an additional £50,000 annual running costs.

Conversely, Ipswich town centre is at the heart of IPARC, the Ipswich Partnership Against Retail Crime.

The county town's security measures include comprehensive CCTV, a retail radio link and shared information on known shoplifters.

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