Hampstead BID could help pay for traders’ anti-crime radio network

Hampstead High Street. Picture: Ken Mears

Hampstead High Street. Picture: Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

Hampstead Business Improvement District (BID) could be asked to fund the extension of a radio system for traders to help cut down on crime.

The Camden Businesses against Crime (CBAC) network provides a way for businesses in Hampstead High Street and Heath Street to contact each other when a crime has taken place or to alert others when they see suspicious behaviour in their shops.

On Thursday the Hampstead Town safer neighbourhood panel meeting heard that only ten businesses are currently using it.

Attendees raised concerns about a recent spate of crime which has seen O2 and David Clulow opticians broken into in the last six weeks, and shoplifting in M&S.

Sgt Joe Johnson said officers had been giving crime prevention advice to shops in Hampstead.

It was also revealed that Hampstead Town and Highgate will get a new sergeant to cover both wards, Sgt John Hansell.

Currently Sgt Johnson covers the two wards as well as Cantelowes and Kentish Town.

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Alongside Sgt Hounsell will be two new dedicated ward offices (DWOs) and PCSO Anthony Alexis.

Yet attendees were told that some businesses are wary of buying in to the system, which costs about £350.

PCSO Alexis said: "The more businesses that have it, the more [of them] that can communicate with each other about it."

Hampstead Town councillor Stephen Stark suggested that the BID may be able to pay part of, or the whole costs.

It collects a mandatory, annual levy from traders in the area and has proven to be controversial in its three years so far.

He said: "It comes up time and time again. Why don't Hampstead BID help by providing it?"

He has also written a letter to this newspaper urging the BID to fund it. In it, the Tory councillor said: "I am puzzled by why local shops are not using this deterrent if it can dramatically reduce theft of stock items by visitors to the store and thereby limit their losses and cut crime. Not checking this crime is a community risk and lets our community down."

Manager of the BID, Marcos Gold said: "In the last few years safety and security has become an increasingly important priority area for BID members and local residents.

"The BID has been working with businesses and stakeholders to ensure any projects we help facilitate are value for money and have a holistic approach. This is to ensure we have all BID members and stakeholders on board including the local safer neighbourhood team."