Festus pictured with Community Safety Wardens in Bedford Town Centre
Festus Akinbusoye, Bedfordshire's Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) candidate will introduce a Business Watch Scheme to prioritise safety in the county’s shops, factories and offices if elected at the May 6 vote.
“Police support is crucial to bring a safer space to workers, local companies and customers,” he explained.
“I want our businesses to be a part of our policing priorities. This will be good for jobs, our local economy and good for policing as well.
“As a former Special Constable with Bedfordshire Police, as well as being a company director with 50 staff, I am well aware of the impacts of commercial crime,” added Festus.
“If elected I will back business by investing in an Employer Supported Policing (ESP) scheme, creating the Bedfordshire Business and Police Forum, and supporting the roll-out of a Business Watch Scheme for our county,” he said.
Data from the British Retail Consortium is behind his call. This revealed that in 2020, there were 424 daily assaults or violent abuse cases on retail workers in the country. Retail crime cost businesses over £2bn and 70% of businesses reported the police response as being poor or very poor. Locally, shoplifting offences increased by 3.2%.
These latest announcements from Mr Akinbusoye are part of his overall plan to help improve the policing needs of local business in Bedfordshire.
The Employer Supported Policing (ESP) is a Home Office backed initiative which is working successfully elsewhere in the country including the Metropolitan Police. It is a partnership that benefits employers, their staff and the police service as well.
If operated in Bedfordshire, employees would be trained by local Police and warranted as Special Constables. This would enable them to contribute directly to the security of the workforce and premises, as well as building police relationships and help make Bedfordshire a safer place in which to work and live.
In addition to the local Business Watch Scheme, a business and police forum will be established in which local companies and Bedfordshire Police can identify crime trends, share information and strengthen their working partnership.
Festus pictured during a visit to a shop in Luton
"Over the last year, I have had several discussions with business owners in our rural and busy urban centres about their experiences with policing support when needed,” explained Festus.
“We must make improvements in this area. Shoplifting, so-called petty thefts and assaults of shop workers must never be tolerated and as PCC, I will make it part of my immediate focus.
"These measures, in addition to the Next Steps programme which I recently announced to tackle drug and alcohol related causes of crime, will help cut criminality, protect residents and keep Bedfordshire safer.
“I am committed to delivering these promises should I be privileged to take on the responsibilities of Bedfordshire's next Police and Crime Commissioner on Thursday 6 May”.