Additional security measures are being introduced in Newcastle town centre to provide an extra level of reassurance for residents, shoppers, visitors and businesses as they return to the area following the pandemic.
Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, working closely with organisations including Staffordshire Police and Newcastle-under-Lyme Business Improvement District (BID), is adding to existing and comprehensive community safety arrangements by launching two new initiatives.
“Welcome back marshalls” – employed by one of the UK’s top-performing security providers – have started to patrol the town for the first time as part of a six-month pilot scheme funded by the Council and eye-catching signs are being installed in various places to inform people about a third extension to its state-of the-art CCTV network which is now live.
The highly visible schemes are designed to increase public confidence and provide much-needed reassurance in these unprecedented times, particularly in relation to perceptions of safety in the town centre following a handful of recent burglaries.
Two trained security guards from the Kingdom Services Group have been recruited to provide advice, guidance and assistance to town centre users every day of the week. The uniformed marshalls – who hold Security Industry Authority (SIA) licences – will also address non-compliance with current Covid guidance and focus on helping to prevent or challenge anti-social behaviour, including working with challenging individuals.
Meanwhile, an extra 39 cameras have been added to the Council’s high quality CCTV system. Some of the new cameras – which operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and are monitored live – cover each of the five refurbished subways at the Grosvenor sunken roundabout as part of improvements, funded by Newcastle’s advanced Town Deal, to make them more welcoming, attractive and safer.
Council Leader Simon Tagg said: “The Council has received more than £35 million of Government investment to help achieve its vision to regenerate Newcastle town centre and encourage ongoing economic development for the benefit of residents and businesses.
“As work continues to progress our ambitious plans, many visitors and businesses have returned to the town centre after a considerable period away due to the pandemic. Understandably the world feels very different and there are some anxious and nervous feelings. We want to reassure everyone that the town centre is open for business and there is a very warm and safe welcome for those who want to shop local and support their local traders. In partnership with the BID, we’re actively supporting businesses and working hard to increase footfall for them.
“The use of marshalls for the first time – as well as further upgrades to CCTV – are positive additions to our robust community safety arrangements. Not only will they help to reduce some doubts and fears, they’ll send out a strong message that crime and anti-social behaviour is not tolerated in Newcastle.”
Councillor Gill Heesom, Cabinet member for community safety and well-being, added: “The Council takes crime and anti-social behaviour in the town centre extremely seriously on behalf of those who are negatively impacted. We work with partners to co-ordinate a programme of targeted, evidence-based interventions. This is an ongoing operation, involving considerable time and resources, with the aim of deterring unacceptable behaviour where possible and providing reassurance.
“A lot of this work isn’t seen by the public so I’m pleased that we’re able to launch two very visible schemes at this time. Our enhanced CCTV system is proving to be a very helpful tool, not only in identifying any offenders but also in reducing fear of crime so it’s great that we’re able to increase coverage even further. I’m also looking forward to seeing the marshalls making a difference.”
Detective Sergeant Kramer Caldwell, from Staffordshire Police, said: “We are keen to welcome the marshalls to help keep visitors and businesses safe and look forward to working together closely in making Newcastle town centre a safe and enjoyable place to be. Officers from the neighbourhood policing team will be working with the marshalls to help address issues of concern within the town centre.
“Both police officers and police community support officers continue to work closely with the Borough Council to tackle anti-social behaviour, crime and disorder and seek innovative ways to improve the safety and security of our town centre.”
Alex Taylor, Manager of Newcastle-under-Lyme BID, added: “As a BID we’re working behind the scenes to deliver a number of initiatives to increase visitor numbers and to drive footfall to our local businesses following an extended lockdown. At the forefront of those plans is to create a safe and welcoming town for our public to shop and socialise comfortably.
“Investment and upgrades to the CCTV system, daily patrols of our BID ambassadors and the implementation of the new marshalls shows that as a partnership, we’re listening to our local businesses and prioritising both theirs and the public’s safety and that we take anti-social behaviour seriously.”