A Shop Watch scheme launches in Lewes town centre this week aiming to enhance safety.
The Business Crime Reduction Partnership (BCRP) has been working with Sussex Police and local business organisations to create the scheme.
Shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants are linked to one another and to the police by radio, enabling information about suspected shoplifters, pickpockets and other criminals to be swiftly circulated.
Divisional police commander, Chief Inspector Rob Leet, said: “With so many successful Shop Watch schemes now operating in Sussex, it was important to establish one here in Lewes.
“Many local traders recognise the strength of working together to deter crime, and this scheme will boost links between businesses and the police.
“It is fully supported by Sussex Police, the Brighton Business Crime Reduction Partnership, the Lewes District Community Safety Partnership and the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner.
“It will empower proprietors to take a stand against those who come to Lewes with the intention of stealing or causing a nuisance on their premises”.
Business Crime Reduction Partnerships, working under strict data protection rules, collate information on active or suspected criminals and this is then used to look out for, and if necessary exclude, such individuals from all Shop Watch premises on a “barred from one, barred from all” basis.
Traders signing up to the scheme get a dedicated police co-ordinator who will make regular visits to check all is well, update websites, distribute a weekly email, provide support, monitor radio transmissions, enrol new members and arrange crime prevention training.
The cost of joining Shop Watch is £6.25 per week. VAT registered businesses can claim that aspect back, and the fee itself is tax deductible.
Lisa Perretta, manager of the Brighton & Hove BCRP, said: “This is an excellent step forward for the Lewes business community, and now there will be clear communications between all its members on what’s happening on the ground.
“Businesses will be forewarned about potential offenders so that they can be on their guard.”
Businesses wishing to join the scheme can get more information by phoning Sussex Police on 101, extension 563019, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org