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Technology helping businesses to fight crime

Technology which allows businesses to share images and information about criminals over the internet is set to be rolled out across South Worcestershire.

Facewatch is already operating in Malvern and now nine traders in Upton upon Severn have signed up to using the system, which allows footage of suspect individuals from CCTV cameras operating in a particular area to be shared. The images can also be uploaded to the police along with witness statements and other vital information.

Traders in Broadway are also interested in the technology which is being offered to shop owners across the area.

Facewatch is designed to tackle low level crime, such as shoplifting, and has resulted in high conviction rates in other parts of the country.

The system is provided for free but businesses pay a small subscription fee to be able to share information between each other.

Facewatch was showcased at the official launch of South Worcestershire Community Safety Partnership's Business Crime scheme on Wednesday, 23 September at Worcester's Guildhall.

The project aims to reduce shoplifting, business burglaries and raise awareness of business crime over the next 12 months. It is part of the £200,000 Business and Rural Crime scheme run by South Worcestershire CSP and funded by West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner Bill Longmore.

Dedicated business and rural crime liaison officers have been appointed to work on a range of projects to drive down those two types of crime in the Wychavon, Malvern Hills and Worcester City areas.

Simon Thompson, Business and Rural Crime Co-ordinator for South Worcestershire Community Safety Partnership, said: "Criminals are increasingly using technology to fund their illegal activities so it's just as important we use it to fight back and help businesses protect themselves."

Bill Longmore, West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner, said: "People across West Mercia have told me tackling business crime was a priority, and I want to make sure it gets the necessary time, focus and money to make a difference. Successful businesses are key to our communities thriving, but it's key that everyone works together to get the best possible results. The Facewatch programme has shown some good successes, and I'm very pleased to see it rolling out further in Worcestershire."

Supt Kevin Purcell, South Worcestershire Commander, added: "It's no longer enough for the police just to go and lock up the bad guys. By working together we can achieve so much more to address the needs of the business community and drive down crime and this is what the scheme is all about."