Photo: Ben Hammond (centre), manager of Ashford Picturehouse, receiving a new radio from Glyn Walker (left), manager of Ashford Partnership Against Crime, and PC Alistair Pringle (right), Kent Police’s licensing officer in Ashford.

New radios are being handed out to staff at public houses, shops and other businesses in Ashford as part of the ongoing work of the town’s crime reduction group.

Ashford Partnership Against Crime (APAC) sees Kent Police, Ashford Borough Council and more than 60 local businesses join forces to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.

After some Covid-19 restrictions were loosened, APAC is handing out new radios to allow businesses to communicate with council enforcement and CCTV officers, as well as Kent Police’s town centre team.

Individuals who cause repeated problems for businesses can then be flagged to officers in case offences have been committed, or barred from the premises of all of the businesses in the scheme.

The extra capability of the new radio system, which was funded by Ashford Borough Council, means organisers are hoping to extend the scheme to Tenterden over the summer and autumn of 2021.

PC Alistair Pringle, Kent Police’s licensing officer in Ashford, said: ‘Kent Police will not tolerate shoplifting, anti-social behaviour and offences linked to the night-time economy in Ashford.

‘The work of APAC allows us to keep in touch with businesses in the town centre, gather intelligence around possible offenders, and respond quickly if any offences take place.’

Cllr Peter Feacey, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Wellbeing at Ashford Borough Council, said: ‘Our funding for this new system demonstrates our appreciation to those town centre businesses who form the backbone of the partnership.

‘By replacing outdated radios with a new digital radio network it will enable the partnership to expand, provide greater reliability, and future-proof the partnership for some time to come.’

Glyn Walker, APAC Scheme Manager, said: ‘This is a major step for us; it means our member businesses can play an active role in making Ashford a safer place to live, work, shop and socialise.’

By Ed