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East Midlands Chamber News

Chesterfield businesses offered free membership of crime-fighting partnership run by East Midlands Chamber

Up to 2,000 businesses in Chesterfield can sign up for free to an East Midlands Chamber-run scheme that helps to reduce town centre crime and anti-social behaviour.

The Business Crime Reduction Partnership (BCRP) has secured funding from Chesterfield Borough Council to offer access to Disc, an online crime information-sharing system that connects businesses with local police forces.

There will be no cost for the first 12 months, with subsequent years costing up to £100 – and potentially lower if enough businesses take up the programme permanently.

Jackie Roberts, BCRP manager at the Chamber, said: “Businesses in town and city centres are struggling at the moment and crime will only make this worse.

“The Disc portal is an integral part of crime reduction strategies as it makes it so much easier for businesses to share intelligence about incidents and offender images between members, police, community safety officers and other partners such as the BCRP team.

“We’ve had a lot of reports during lockdown because police resources have been really stretched due to sickness, so the BCRP fills the gap where police can’t deal with petty crime.

“By working with local authorities such as Chesterfield Borough Council, we’re delighted to offer this scheme for free to businesses in order to make them more resilient – a key theme during the post-Covid economic recovery.”

What is the Business Crime Reduction Partnership?

The BCRP, one of 200 such programmes in the UK, is funded by both the Chamber and the Derbyshire Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa.

Its remit to reduce crime in participating towns, cities and retail parks fits into an overall objective to make them a safer place to work, visit, socialise and shop.

Members pay a fee and benefits include a GDPR-compliant data-sharing system that facilitates direct reporting to the police without the need to use the time-consuming 101 system.

Intelligence and crime reports can be submitted electronically to the police and other BCRP members, who also have access to app and web-based image galleries of people who have been arrested or are known offenders.

How BCRP membership will help Chesterfield town centre

There are currently about 80 businesses in Chesterfield signed up to an advanced version of the BCRP scheme that also includes radio connections.

The council’s funding will give about 2,000 businesses in sectors such as retail, hospitality and tourism the opportunity to sign up for the basic package, which uses the online Disc system.

It will be launched at the beginning of May ahead of the reopening of hospitality in the Government’s roadmap to ending lockdown.

Councillor Jill Mannion-Brunt, Chesterfield Borough Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “It is fantastic news that this funding has been made available for our local businesses.

“This project will help strengthen the link between retailers and the police which should help limit crime and anti-social behaviour in our town.

“I want to encourage every local business to sign up to this programme because I believe it will be a positive step for our town.”

Hardyal Dhindsa, Police and Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire, added: “Tackling retail crime is a priority for me and I am pleased that my funding of the Business Crime Reduction Partnership with the Chamber is enabling partners like Chesterfield Borough Council to join us in tackling criminality. This is an excellent way of supporting businesses to reduce the crime and antisocial behaviour that they have said concerns them.

Hardyal Dhindsa pictured with Chesterfield business owners before the pandemic

“We have been working hard, with local partners, to successfully address other problems in Chesterfield Town Centre through the Chesterfield Town Summit, and this is another tool in the box.

“I welcome the fact that Chesterfield Borough Council has recognised the important of supporting local business and I hope that in time we will be able to roll this programme out across Derbyshire with other local authorities.”

Further plans for BCRP roll-out in Derbyshire

Discussions are ongoing on how to roll out the offer to Staveley, while there are plans to roll out the Disc scheme in Matlock and Bakewell, in which a combined 40 businesses are signed up to the radio system.

Jackie added: “The hope is that by signing up businesses for the first year, they will be able to see the benefits of continuing with the scheme thereafter.

“The more businesses that are involved in the BCRP scheme and sharing information, the stronger it will be – and the better the area will be as a result.

“Councils and regeneration teams are placing crime reduction high on the agenda in order to bring back footfall into their towns.

“It also removes barriers to reporting crime as the Disc system automatically notifies the police when an incident is logged, while police are able to input feedback so businesses can follow what happens to offenders.”

The British Retail Consortium’s 2020 retail crime survey, published in March just before lockdown, found there were 424 violent or abusive incidents towards staff per day nationally, while businesses lost £770m due to theft and £2.2bn resulting from overall crime.

Anyone interested in discussing how to get involved with the Derbyshire Business Crime Reduction Partnership can email jackie.roberts@emc-dnl.co.uk.