Businesses are Chichester's eyes and ears

A successful crime-busting organisation in Chichester is urging more people to join and become the eyes and ears of the city.

Chichester District Business Against Crime (ChiBAC) has been operating for three years, and counts shops, pubs and event Chichester Railway Station among its members.

Currently one third of businesses in the city are members, but more businesses joining means more power in helping to force criminals out of Chichester.

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ChiBAC manager, Tessa Callingham said that it helped businesses to feel safer, and also assisted police when other crimes took place.

Protecting staff

"ChiBAC is based around pro-active partnership working, it is non-political and non-profit-making, and really works.

"It helps to protect staff from physical and verbal abuse and helps deter criminals from coming to Chichester to commit crime because it becomes knowledge that the city has such a scheme."

Shops and other businesses are linked via a special radio and members can alert each other to possible shoplifters and suspicious behaviour.

If a serious incident develops then the police are alerted.

Police Community Support Officers and police officers on patrol in Chichester as part of the Neighbourhood Policing Team also carry radios and can be at the scene in minutes.

Tracking suspects

If a suspected shoplifter is seen leaving a shop, the CCTV unit in Chichester can find them in seconds and watch them until a police officer arrives.

Sergeant Robert Flanagan said the scheme had been a real success and an essential tool, and that it helped 'empower' people in the city. It was not just about crime, but about general public safety as well.

Manager of Hi Ho Silver in North Street, Jo Allday said it had been part of the scheme since it started.

"We opened in December 2006, and in the first three weeks of opening we lost about 2,500-worth-of stock to shoplifters.

"Since we've been part of the scheme we've got that right down, originally we joined to deal with the problem, but now it's more of a preventative measure and criminals are getting to know that if they come to Chichester they will be caught and prosecuted."

Safe place

Owner of The Dining Room, in North Street, Neil Rusbridger said: "It's very good, particularly with the kind of customers we have, it gives them the confidence to know Chichester is safe place.

"ChiBAC is brilliant and you get a good response. It's a way for businesses to officially exchange quite sensitive information '“ it's all about joined up policing."

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"It makes you feel very safe and you do become more aware of what's going on around you."

What do you think? Send a letter to [email protected] or leave a comment below.

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