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Sheffield BID helps businesses tackle crime during festive season

Sheffield Business Improvement District (BID) is working with Sheffield City Council to fully digitise the city centre’s crime radio network in the run up to one of the busiest times of the year.

The City Retailers Against Crime (CRAC) radio network has proven to be a valuable and successful mechanism for preventing crime and shoplifting. But, of the 154 subscribers to the network 40 still use out-dated analogue radios. Sheffield BID has stepped in to ensure the network is fully digital by replacing these with state-of-the-art digital handsets.

CRAC radio is used by 154 businesses in retail, hospitality and the night time economy to share information about shoplifters and people known for anti-social behaviour. The network provides businesses with a direct link to the Council’s CCTV operators, who will contact the police if the incident requires more support.

The digital radios are fitted with voice recording software which could be used as evidence against offenders, have a back up to ensure they can still operate during a power cut and have enhanced security encryption to ensure the network is safe. They also have better reception, so the network can expand to areas of the city centre that couldn’t receive a signal previously, and enhanced audio quality compared to the analogue radios.

Better battery life and better waterproofing will ensure the radios are durable, whilst some handsets are fitted with GPS location tracking for staff safety. Increased analytics on the digital radio will provide an opportunity to see how often the network is used.

Matthew Burdett, Sheffield BID Police Sergeant, said: “CRAC radio provides businesses with a fast response from CCTV operatives, who can monitor incidents and allocate a city centre ambassador or notify police if required.

“The digital system gives users access to the Business Crime Portal, which provides intelligence and pictures on some of the city centre’s most prolific offenders, as well as providing an opportunity to report crimes and incidents.”

Diane Jarvis, Sheffield BID Manager, said: “Sheffield BID is committed to making the city centre safer for businesses, their staff, and customers. By digitising the CRAC radio network we are helping to improve the service at a time of year when we see an uplift in shoplifting.

“CRAC radio helps businesses to share information with each other, the Council and the police. By improving the network, we hope to support businesses tackle retail crime and anti-social behaviour.”

Councillor Jim Steinke, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Community Safety at Sheffield City Council, said: “Christmas time provides a huge boost to retailers but it’s also the time when our businesses and their customers are most at risk from crime.

"We want shoppers, visitors and businesses in the city centre to enjoy a safe experience and the CRAC radio system has proven very effective in detecting and tackling crime and anti-social behaviour. The network allows us to share intelligence on common offenders and incidents as they happen and upgrading the remaining handsets to digital means our ambassadors and the police can respond more quickly and effectively to criminal activity, improving the service for everyone.”

Sheffield BID is a private, not-for-profit company which is responsible for delivery of the city centre’s Business Improvement District (BID).

The BID (one of over 300 in the UK) is a business-led partnership created through a ballot process to deliver additional services to local businesses and improvements to the trading and physical environment. Improvements may include, but are not limited to, extra safety/security, cleansing and environmental issues.

The BID’s defined area is the city centre. It is a five-year project (2015-2020) which generates approximately £800,000 of additional investment each year (a total of £4.0m). This investment is collected through a levy currently paid by 511 city centre businesses.

The BID’s remit was determined, and is now controlled, by the businesses involved. Our priorities include:

Busier – more visitors (higher footfall), vibrancy, investment and economic growth
Together – a collaborative, partnership approach and business voice
Easier – a city centre that is easier to access and navigate
Cleaner – a noticeably cleaner city centre
Safer – a safer day and night time environment