App designed Ashby to make town safer for shop owners

A new mobile app has been introduced to help businesses in a Leicestershire town report anti-social behaviour.

The Ashby Businesses Against Crime app was created by the town's business improvement district (BID).

People can use it to report low-level crime including anti-social behaviour, graffiti and shoplifting, which will send alerts to inform other businesses of any issues.

Ashby BID manager, Stuart Benson, said the app is "making the town safer".

Leicestershire Police was informed of 11 incidents of anti-social behaviour in March in Ashby De La Zouch, compared to eight in February and three in January.

Mr Benson added: "As things get tighter for people, there is always going to be a slight increase in crime. We're putting a lot of measures into the town to try and combat these, the app being one of them.

"We have 48 retail radios out in the town centre - they're connected directly to CCTV and then alert the police if it needs to be escalated.

"There's some apprehension amongst some businesses. But I think with what we're doing at the minute, we are making the town safer."

Helen Cormack
Helen Cormack, owner of Goose Boutique, says anything that speeds up the process of communication "has to be a positive" [BBC]

Helen Cormack, owner of Goose Boutique in Market Street, said: "I think, being a small community, we need to be able to keep the lines open for communication so anything that will help that is always going to be a winner.

Harvey Kang, of Twelve Restaurant & Bar in Bath Street, said the app offers "a sense of security".

He added: "I think you do get little bits and bobs of trouble, violence, thefts, in most towns, not just Ashby, so it'd be unfair to say Ashby had a lot of trouble, but they did have their fair share.

"The one thing that is really good is they've got the town council rangers who patrol the street daily during busy periods. They're on call with the town council radios, so if any businesses have trouble, they're instantly there."

Jess Johnson
Jess Johnson works at The Flower Lady Florist [BBC]

Jess Johnson, who works at The Flower Lady Florist in Bath Street, said she thinks the introduction of the app is "a positive step".

She added: "Especially in Ashby, it's a big community anyway. We all look after each other."

Lucy Ball works at Noami Boutique in Bath Street and believes the app will "probably be a good idea for the town".

She said the most important part of the app would be businesses all being able to communicate and "find out if anything is happening around the town".

Although the app does not currently report directly to the police, Mr Benson explained that a local officer has access to the system and can escalate complaints if needed, while the BID waits for a data sharing agreement with Leicestershire Police.

Sgt Joe Postlethwaite said: "While we would welcome the introduction of raising awareness of this issue, we would always encourage people to report criminal offences to us so we can fully investigate them and build a bigger picture of any ongoing concerns."

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