By Paul Ainsworth

SHOPKEEPERS in South Belfast are being encouraged to look at new ways of tackling the rising spate of robberies, including a “radio link” system already proving a success in the city centre.

Following our reports of a string of raids on an off-licence chain’s South Belfast stores, two local politicians met with police to discuss ideas including a network of communication between traders in robbery hotspots, which would be monitored by the PSNI.

Already in operation in the city centre, the radio link network is operated by Belfast City Centre Management on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, and discussions are taking place to roll it out further into South Belfast.

Alliance Councillor Cathy Curran told the South Belfast News that herself and MLA Anna Lo were “increasingly concerned” about people working in shops targeted by armed thugs.

“Staff safety in our local shops should be a priority for everyone, and patterns are emerging showing a lot of these raids could be linked,” she said.

“We discussed the radio link network as an option, and would encourage local traders to look into this as a way of stopping these attacks from occurring.”

Andrew Irvine of City Centre Management told this paper that they would be “delighted” to discuss the scheme with members of the South Belfast business community.

“The vast majority of city centre retailers are involved, and they will tell you they couldn’t now operate without it,” he said.

“The Chamber are quite happy to extend the radio link out from its core area in the centre to other areas such as the Lisburn Road for instance.

“If traders get in touch with us, we will be delighted to talk to them about it. It allows shop staff to talk directly with other local stores to alert them if a robbery has taken place, or if known criminals are in the area. The network is also constantly monitored by the PSNI at Musgrave, so they can find out about incidents even quicker.”

 

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