Northern Ireland district members in certain business improvement districts (BID) have been urged to check their eligibility for free membership of Retail Crimewatch, a council scheme designed to tackle retail crime.

Retailers who have shops in the Linen Quarter BID and Belfast One BID are eligible to join the programme for free as part of their BID levies. The scheme, run by Belfast City Centre Management Company, bans prolific shoplifters, who have been sentenced by the police, from entering the premises of its 400 members.

Speaking at the NFRN Northern Ireland district council’s annual general meeting last week, Belfast City Centre Management Company business crime partnership manager Sarah-Anne Attwood, said: “Any eligible retailers who aren’t already part of the scheme should contact their BIDs to find out more.

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“The service ban has data on shoplifters who have been given exclusion orders, which prohibits them from entering the premises of our members for 12 months from the date of the order being given.

“Since it launched in 2005, we’ve been using Retail Crimewatch as a way of reducing stock losses and making sure there are consequences for anyone who commits a shop theft.”

NFRN national president Stuart Reddish added: “There are members in the district who don’t realise they can access the service for free. Retail crime is a very serious issue that affects our members. We need to get this information out there to those members who might be eligible for the help it can provide.”

Using information supplied by the police, Retail Crimewatch will send members images of the shoplifters, with information on their date of birth, how many convictions they have received and the premises they have been excluded from. They will also receive newsletters on counterfeit notes alongside online training on how to handle different types of shop theft.

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Retailers who are not members of eligible BIDs can pay £700, £1,500 or £3,000 per year to join the scheme depending on their store size. Membership includes retailers from Spar and Centra, alongside larger retailers such as Boots.

Retailers who find a banned shoplifter entering their premises can raise an alert through the Retail Crimewatch database as part of a system introduced two years ago. Attwood said: “In 2019, Retail Crimewatch had over 270 shoplifters banned from entering member premises for 12 months.

“The flagging system we implemented in February 2018 has resulted in 59 burglary charges to date.”

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