Sussex Police have joined forces with the Southern Co-operative to target crime against local businesses in Littlehampton and Eastbourne.

New business wardens will be able to gather evidence, report crimes directly to the police and provide crime prevention advice to help reduce crime affecting shops and businesses in the two Sussex towns.

The wardens also have access to the Facewatch application, designed to help businesses report crimes and track their progress with the Police via online feedback.

Loss prevention and security services manager for The Southern Co-operative, Gareth Lewis, said: “We were early adaptors of the Facewatch platform and have found it to be an effective way for our stores to share information and report criminal activity without the need for police to be dispatched or our colleagues to be inconvenienced.”

Business crime lead for Sussex Police, Chris Neilson, said: “This project is about forging a stronger partnership between businesses and the police to tackle crime, providing a dedicated service and reduced time for businesses to report crime directly.”

The project, which is supported by Sussex Police, Eastbourne Business Crime Reduction Partnership, Littlehampton businesses and the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, is funded by the Home Office and The Southern Cooperative until 2017. The project is part of a collaborative bid, worth £249,000 over two years.

There will be three wardens in Littlehampton and two in Eastbourne. If the initiative proves successful it will be piloted in other towns across the country.