Retailers have welcomed government plans promising every community in England and Wales its own neighbourhood policing team and police community support officers (PCSOs) by April, but have expressed surprise that action has not been taken sooner.
Ministers say the plans, which were outlined by PM Gordon Brown and home secretary Jacqui Smith, will give communities a greater say over how their streets are policed.
The teams will be charged with communicating with local people and businesses, and agreeing priorities for action. A new 'Name in Every Neighbourhood' campaign will highlight how people can contact their local team. The home office also plans to launch a website listing names and numbers of community team members.
Londis retailer Sunder Sandher of Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, said he was pleased about the plans, but would have liked to see them introduced sooner. He told Convenience Store: "I am seeing more officers on the beat and the plans represent a return to the good old days of how policing used to be. If everything which is promised is carried out, I think it will be a big plus for retailers. This should have been done a long time ago, but at least it's a move in the right direction."
l Scottish retailers have also backed a return to 'bobbies on the beat' after leading officers announced that crime levels had fallen by up to a fifth in cites in which the approach has been used (C-Store, February 8, 2008). Lothian and Borders Police reported that bringing back regular foot patrols had produced positive results.