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Solihull Business Improvement District is training its Town Host visitor guides in crime prevention in anticipation of cuts to community policing in the borough.
Solihull BID’s four Town Hosts have now been given Security Industry Association (SIA) training to Door Supervisor Level as well as instruction in conflict management and legal advice on what they can and can’t do in an emergency situation.
The Solihull BID Town Hosts’ training news release in full:
Solihull town centre’s visitor guides have been given additional crime prevention and conflict management training after a proposal to cut police community support officer numbers in the borough was announced.
The four Town Hosts are employed by Solihull Business Improvement District (BID) to support shops and businesses by patrolling the town centre and guiding visitors. They also have radio links to the CCTV control centre.
West Midlands Police is proposing to take hundreds of police community support officers (PCSOs) off the streets by 2020, part of the force’s WMP2020 consultation plan which sets out how it will operate in future as it makes savings of £130 million.
Solihull BID’s Town Hosts have now been given Security Industry Association (SIA) training to Door Supervisor Level as well as instruction in conflict management.
As part of the SIA training the Town Hosts were given legal advice on what they’re allowed to do in emergency situations. They were also trained in self-defence and restraint techniques.
Solihull Retail Crime Initiative is chaired by BID Operations Manager John Timms, who said: “With the reduction in visible neighbourhood police officers in Solihull town centre the Hosts are going to be called upon more by businesses for help and support.
“By giving them this extra training it will enable the Hosts to recognise and deal with different and evolving situations in a more reassured and confident manner.”
BID Executive Director Melanie Palmer explained how a key strand of the BID’s business plan, formed following consultation with town centre companies, was to keep Solihull safe and secure.
“The main role for our Town Hosts is to act as a reassuring presence in the town and to work closely with key partners to protect our businesses and to deter criminal activity,” said Ms Palmer.
“The recent training enhances their existing knowledge making their team impact even stronger.”
Figures released by West Midlands Police earlier this year revealed shoplifting in Solihull town centre dropped by 18 per cent in the 12 months to April 2015, the second year in a row that crime has reduced in the town, bucking the regional trend as shoplifting increased in other parts of the West Midlands.
There was also a 25 per cent reduction in the theft of purses and business crime had also dropped by 10.5 per cent over the 12-month period.
Chief Superintendent Alex Murray, the Solihull police commander, said the expected reduction in PCSOs will not happen immediately and he did not know at this stage where and how fast the numbers would be reduced by.
“West Midlands Police is still committed to neighbourhood policing and to cater for the smaller numbers we are changing how we operate in nearly every field of operation to become more efficient and concentrate in the areas where the greatest impact on crime can be achieved,” said Chief Superintendent Murray.
“Part of that process is building on the knowledge that residents and partners can have a huge effect on feelings of safety and preventing crime.
“In Solihull town centre the BID’s Town Hosts are well known and much loved in providing reassurance to visitors, advice to businesses and a clear deterrent message to offenders.
“Not many town centres have teams like this and I am really pleased Solihull’s works so well. The extra training they will receive on crime prevention will help bring down business crime and make sure Solihull is even safer in the evening.
“I would personally like to thank both the BID team for their commitment and the Solihull businesses for their on-going support to the BID. I would love to see BIDs start in Shirley and Chelmsley Wood too.”