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From | Thursday 11 July 2019

Partnership between police and HullBID and brings together retailers, cafes, banks and major organisations in the city.

Kathryn Shillito and Ch Supt Darren Downs at the meeting of the Retail Security Group.

Businesses in Hull are being urged to play a greater part in the fight against crime in the city centre by providing vital information to Humberside Police after a multi-agency group was formed to drive improvements.

Chief Superintendent Darren Downs, North Bank Divisional Commander for Humberside Police, told business representatives they will see a difference in the city centre as a result of partnership working. But he warned that change will take time.

He said: “You will always have my commitment and I expect us to make a difference with the multi-agency group. But what we can’t do is solve it overnight.”

Ch Supt Downs spoke at the Retail Security Group, which is organised by HullBID and brings together retailers, cafes, banks and organisations including Hull City Council and homelessness charity Emmaus.

He listened as business owners told of their experiences in the city centre and how a police presence makes a difference in terms of deterring potential offenders involved in antisocial behaviour, shoplifting and drug use.

Many said they had seen customers being harassed for money with young, old and vulnerable people handing over cash because they felt intimidated. They welcomed the new Small Change in the Right Hands posters, which are part of a campaign led by the Community Safety Partnership advising people to donate to organisations such as Emmaus rather than to beggars.

The meeting included a discussion on creating exclusion zones to keep offenders away from the city centre and introducing new design features, such as improved lighting, to create an environment in which criminals found it more difficult to operate.

Ch Supt Downs highlighted social and mental health issues as among the complications that mean that crime and anti-social behaviour can only be tackled in partnership with other organisations. 

He said: “We will try to prioritise the city centre because I have always been of the view that if you are in control of your city centre the rest of the city tends to comply a bit more. HullBID is a strong, powerful community that can exert influence and pressure.”

The Retail Security Group was set up to help address the issues around crime and to provide a communications channel between businesses and the police via HullBID.

HullBID executive director Kathryn Shillito said: “Our members wanted direct access to decision-makers within the police and looked to HullBID to take the lead and coordinate the meetings. The discussions we have held so far have been very positive with businesses conveying first-hand accounts of the problems arising from crime and antisocial behaviour in the city centre.

“That information enables the police to manage their resources more effectively, and it helps businesses develop their own crime preventions strategies. But this is just one element of a partnership approach. Regardless of whether they attend the meetings, every business in the city centre can help by providing the police with details of crimes and offenders through the usual channels.”