Thanks to an innovative scheme, petty crime in Westminster cafes has been reduced by up to 50%.
First established 5 years ago,the council’s Café Watch programme involves working in partnership with major coffee-shop chains, sharing intelligence, carrying out police checks and providing extra staff training.
Those involved include Starbucks, Eat, Costa Coffee, Coffee Republic, Pret and Café Nero.The number of crimes reported in these cafe fell from a total of 816 in the first three months of 2007 to 397 in the same period this year.
Joint visits have been conducted together with officers from Westminster City Council Health & Safety team and Crime Prevention Officers. Store staff have received training in conflict management, providing them with the skills to deal with threatening behaviour, substance-induced aggression and abusive and anti-social behaviour.
Staff are also encouraged to remind members of public to look after their personal property. In addition, proprietors are encouraged to use CCTV images to identify people involved in incidents and to provide evidence for action to be taken.
Moving forwards, the scheme is now expected to be extended to smaller businesses, such as family-owned café outlets.
Cllr Daniel Astaire said: “The success of this scheme just goes to show how effective we can be at driving down crime when we work together. Some of the measures used in Café Watch such as Chelsea clips and reminding people to be vigilant can seem relatively simple but can make all the difference.”