In 1999 the Wisbech & District Chamber of Commerce purchased its first 20 Two way radios to form the first stage of the then Radio Watch Scheme. Set up by David Oliver then President of the Chamber of Commerce the system started with the involvement of Fifteen retailers and Wisbech Police. The scheme was set up to help those retailers with radios to notify each other of potential shoplifters, forged notes and any possible anti- social behaviour. The Scheme grew steadily and today has sixty plus radios around Wisbech in Shops, Businesses and Public Houses (Pub Watch) in 2005, with the aid of a grant the scheme was upgraded and the name changed to the nationally recognised Shop Watch. This also coincided with the re-introduction of CCTV in Wisbech.
The Partnership of the Wisbech Chamber of Commerce, The Businesses, Retailers, Public, Houses Fenland CCTV services and Wisbech Police has been so successful with regular meetings to discuss issues relating to shoplifters, forged notes and any anti- social behaviour. The partnership have worked closely together and have been successful in gaining convictions for shoplifting which includes banning orders and ASBO’s for prolific offenders.
To compliment the Radio Watch scheme Kiddy Safe was set up this consisted of all shops with radios displaying the Kiddy Safe sign in their windows so that people could ask for assistance to help reunite lost Children or Parents and to coincide with the the new Radio system Kiddy Safe will be re-launched with new signage at the end of 2021.
A quote from the Present President Of the Chamber……Kevin Smith,Horsefair Manager, said:" Being based at The Horsefair Shopping Centre I am perfectly placed to witness the success of this scheme which has gone from strength to strength over the years.The scheme has proved a very effective tool to assist the town's retailers if faced with crime and anti-social behaviour, it also sends out a clear message that the town's business community are working closely together, which leads to a safer, happier environment for our shoppers in Wisbech to enjoy."
A quote from Arron Locks Safer Fenland CCTV Supervisor…… “The Wisbech Radio ShopWatch scheme is a vital tool in providing local businesses and retailers with a two-way information sharing link to the Fenland District Council CCTV service and Police.
The scheme has been very successful in producing effective communication between all members to assist in the detection and prevention of crime and disorder in the Town centre. In the past six years the scheme has reported nearly 300 incidents to the CCTV service and with the support from CCTV has led to 79 arrests.
The scheme has also been very active in helping to locate missing children and parents, and as a result it reunites loved ones as quickly as possible.
The Wisbech ShopWatch scheme with the continual support from all the local retailers, businesses, CCTV service and Police, continues to go from strength to strength.”
A Grant obtained in partnership with Wisbech Town Council from the Combined Authority will enable the Chamber to upgrade and future proof its radio system and increase the amount of businesses on the scheme. this will be happening in the near future.