30/07/2008

'The Beat Goes On' For Belfast's Retail Cops

Funding for two dedicated police officers in Belfast city centre has been extended for another year.

The privately financed 'City Centre Beat' officers have targeted anti-social behaviour, illegal street trading and retail offences in Belfast since 2005.

The initiative, funded by Belfast City Council and the Chamber of Trade and Commerce, also aims to "reduce the fear of crime".

The two officers have a strategic partnership with Belfast City Centre Management, and respond directly to call-outs by retailers across the city.

The success of the scheme during its first three years of operation has led to its extension for another year.

Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland said: "The Belfast City Centre Beat initiative has proved a resounding success, and I am delighted that it can be extended for another year.

"The initiative operates in conjunction with other schemes such the Citysafe Crimewatch network, which links businesses so they can share information, and the Get Home Safe initiative, which is aimed at keeping the streets safe at night.

"This multi-agency approach has resulted in a huge reduction in anti-social behaviour, illegal street trading and traffic violations, making Belfast a much safer and more pleasant place to live, work and spend time.
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"Working in partnership to tackle crime in Belfast City Centre is producing excellent results and I look forward to another successful year for Belfast City Centre Beat."

John Moore, President of Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said: "The City Centre Beat partnership has been extremely effective from day one, quickly eradicating illegal street trading, improving traffic movement around the city centre as well as significantly reducing anti-social behaviour.

"The benefits of this partnership means we were able to develop a tailored community policing scheme for the City Centre to respond to quality of life issues for the business community."

Earlier this month a similar policing initiative was launched for Victoria Square, which will now see two permanent officers patrol the massive complex.

Belfast City Centre Manager, Andrew Irvine, said: "The City Centre Beat partnership has been extremely effective from day one, quickly eradicating illegal street trading, significantly reducing anti-social behaviour and reducing stock loss due to shoplifting by some 51% in Belfast City Centre, saving retailers more than £8 million.

"It made perfect sense to extend this scheme into Victoria Square, one of the most exciting new retail environments in the UK and Ireland.

"The benefits of this partnership meant that we were able to develop a tailored community policing scheme for Victoria Square, maximising the use of resources and delivering in a measurable way," he added.

Both initiatives operate in addition to the wider service provided by sector police in Belfast.

(PR)

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