Businesses band together to fight crime

A BUSINESS Watch set up in the industrial area of Hitchin has already got 30 companies on board.

Police community support officer Sarah Brown took over the Bearton neighbourhood in November and noticed trends in commercial crime, including burglary, metal theft and theft of catalytic converters from vehicles.

“I thought that a Business Watch scheme would be a great idea to empower companies to be aware of what was going on around them and how they can prevent it occurring.

“I wanted to provide them with a network that allows them to talk to one another and also to give them a link to police to allow them to report crime and get information and facilities like property marking.

“It’s free to join and we plan to have the mobile police station visiting the sites on a regular basis. They can come and talk to officers to join up, report crime, get crime prevention advice and take advantage of free property marking.

“Businesses also receive regular messages from the OWL system– which stands for Online Watch Link - by phone, email or fax, so they will be aware of any incidents that happen in their locality.

“Obviously, businesses can also be on the alert if there is a spate of crime – and report any suspicious activity in and around commercial premises. We can also advise how best to utilise the existing CCTV system.

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“Herts Fire and Rescue Service has also offered to get involved in offering businesses fire safety checks and fire prevention advice. They can also carry out surveys of premises and give up to date information on fire legislation practices.”

Ian Cairncross, office manager at Intech House in Wilbury Way, said: “I see Business Watch as a great advantage because getting involved has really helped me get to know my neighbours on the industrial estate and also for them to get to know me.

“I think you’re going to be more likely to look out for other people and businesses if you know who they are. I think it raises your awareness and keeps you in touch with what’s happening around you and what you need to be on the lookout for.”

Business Watch has been operating in Hitchin for four months and covers Bury Mead Road, Cadwell Lane and part of Wilbury Way.

If businesses are interested in finding out more, they should contact Sarah Brown on 0845 33 00 222 or email

People with premises in Wilbury Way can talk to Ian Cairncross who can take details and give out information.