Local businesses will join a new radio-network supported and funded by Basildon Council to combat anti-social behaviour across Pitsea town centre and its surrounding areas.

The newly agreed funding will create a direct line of communication between retail businesses as well as Essex Police, called the Town Centre Radio Link Scheme.

Last night the Housing and Communities Committee unanimously voted to establish the radio-link with funds of just over £5,330 from the budget for Community Safety initiatives.

The funds will cover ten new radios, a repeater (which receives radio signals and re-transmits them over long distances), alarms, and an Ofcom radio-spectrum broadcast licence will be bought with the money to allow local charity shops and smaller independent retailers to participate in the scheme.

Councillor Andrew Ansell who chairs the Pitsea Town Centre Revival sub-committee, worked with the Chairman of the Housing and Communities Committee Kerry Smith to set up meetings between the Council and Pitsea's retailers, and said:

"We're providing quick, secure ways for retailers to share information about shoplifters or anti-social behaviour - along with a direct line to local Police - so more criminals will be caught.

"It is hugely important to us that we create an environment where our residents, local businesses and visitors feel safe and provide them with reassurance that we listen to and respond to their concerns."

Basildon district commander Chief Inspector Chris Bradford said: "We understand the impact that theft and anti-social behaviour can have on retailers and customers visiting the area. We have been working closely with local businesses and Basildon Council to address these concerns.

"The radio system will give businesses a quick and direct communication link with each other to share information and help us identify offenders."

Last summer, a group of Pitsea retailers raised concerns with councillors and Safer Basildon about anti-social behaviour, begging, shoplifting, and broader disruption to shops. 

At a recent meeting with retailers, councillors, council officers, and Essex Police it was decided that an existing phone app, such as WhatsApp, would be inappropriate as a communication system due to non-dedicated design and use, response times and security.

As a solution a simple and effective network of radios to link local retailers along with Police was agreed. 

It is likely that larger businesses will purchase their own radios, along with Essex Police who will secure their own access to the network to respond to incidents - with up to 25 businesses proposed to become a part of the radio-network.


Published on Wednesday 26 February 2020