A TRADERS’ association has launched a daytime anti-crime scheme to protect businesses in the High Street.
Rayleigh & District Chamber of Trade has set up a social media chat group, “Traders Link”, on WhatsApp where members can inform each other instantly of any criminal activity or suspicious behaviour.
Martin Hodson, president of the Rayleigh and District Chamber of Trade, said the initiative provides a valuable service to traders.
He added: “Since its introduction in August, the uptake has been phenomenal. We have around 40 members so far. The aim is to share information with an immediate response to issues concerning suspected shoplifters.
“We’ve had people coming into shops stealing laptops from offices. And people causing disturbances for our traders.
“This is a fast and effective way for the shops in the town centre to communicate with each other.
“Rayleigh town is sending out a clear message for unsavoury characters to stay away as the businesses are united against crime.”
This scheme follows the success of the Rayleigh Pubwatch scheme launched in 2013. That initiative was set up by Russell Best, owner of the Spread Eagle pub, and enables members to share information and prevent disorder and violence.
Mr Hodson said: “Not only is Traders Link sharing information between members, but we will send information and pictures of criminal activity to the police as well.
“Since funding to the police has been cut there’s been fewer officers around the area so we have to look after ourselves. We’ve also introduced the scheme to traders in Hockley and Rochford.”
Claire Broadie, 26, manager of New Look in Rayleigh High Street, said: “I think it’s a good idea. We’ve had recurring thefts in the area before so I think this will be a good way for us business owners and traders to stick together, and look after each other.”