A TASK force is to fund new security measures for small businesses following the death of Gurmail Singh.
Radios, CCTV, security mirrors and new shutters will all be available as part of the £100,000 pot of cash the panel will use to target improvements in safety for retail workers.
The £50,000 award from the Home Office, doubled by the council, was awarded before the shopkeeper’s murder on February 20, but council leader Mehboob Khan says the crime has increased the determination of the authority to protect retail staff.
He said the Retail Crime Task Force, which meets on Monday, March 15, chaired by Clr Peter O’Neill would not be a “knee jerk” reaction to an incident which appalled the town.
Clr Khan said: “We will never be able to stop all crime against retailers but we can put preventative measures in place.
“The task force will be working to make these businesses ‘harder targets’.
“We will back Balbir Singh Uppal’s calls for crimes against shop staff to be treated the same as hospital staff and postal workers.
“Political parties need to make commitments that they will take this matter seriously and raise it in parliament.”
Areas in Dewsbury, Batley and North Huddersfield will be targeted initially by the task force, which currently includes police, town centre managers, the Independent Grocers Association and small businesses.
An initial pack of items for small businesses will include radios to include them in the Business Watch scheme, Ultra Violet pens to mark stock and security mirrors as well as panic alarms.
They can also seek further support in the form of CCTV and shutters. It is likely money to fund this will be awarded on a sliding scale, with more successful businesses getting less on a sliding scale.
Other measures improving communication between shops and increase the scope of Shop Watch schemes which will be given a dedicated Community Support Officer.
The council is also spending £28,000 to provide half the funding for CCTV in taxis and a series of diversionary activities to keep young people and some offenders occupied in summer.
Clr Khan added: “We have to emphasise the point this is a complex issue. We want to avoid the displacement of crime and Cowcliffe is next to areas of Fartown and Bradley where retailers are aware of the issues and have taken some kind of action on their own.”
Chairman of the panel Clr O’Neill said: “There is an opportunity here to target areas of high crime because in the recession it can be harder for retailers to invest in security themselves.”