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A Shopwatch scheme is a partnership where retailers unify as an independent group to pre-empt theft in retail premises.

The Shopwatch organisation works closely with local authorities and intends to reduce retail crime and antisocial behaviour and to help make shopping areas safer for customers and staff. Local police can support Shopwatch, as it works with public safety campaigns and retail crime reduction initiatives.

The simplest way to describe Shopwatch is a network of businesses from a town centre, and sometimes outlying areas, all linked by radio - to each other, the police and CCTV operators.

This enables offenders or suspects to be spotted and tracked before they commit crimes against businesses - a proactive complement to the area's neighbourhood policing and response teams. In some areas Police officers and PCSOs carry a Shopwatch radio, and radios are also installed in the CCTV centres.

Shopwatch schemes vary in size, each headed by a coordinator, and meet on a regular basis to discuss problems that have occurred on or near retail premises. Although Shopwatch schemes are supported by police who can offer help and advice, it must be recognised that the scheme is not run by police.

Shopwatch objectives:

  • To tackle and prevent retail crime and anti-social behaviour through effective communication and the prompt reporting of retail crime, anti-social behaviour and criminal activity.
  • To promote a sense of security for customers and staff.
  • To improve police/business liaison by providing effective communications through two-way radio and dedicated online services. One such service is ShopwatchOnline.


If you’d like to set up a scheme there are two routes open to you:

  • Form an independent Shopwatch scheme with responsibility to address local issues affecting the members. Contact your local policing team for more information.
  • Form or join an existing local Business Crime Reduction Partnership (BCRP). These schemes are members of the National Association of Business Crime Partnerships (NABCP), which enables a Shopwatch scheme to operate more effectively as part of a wider partnership.

See the NABCP website for more information on joining a BCRP.

Note: Sussex Police only recognises schemes set up in accordance with national guidelines and where a specific Information Sharing Agreement (ISA) has been agreed between an individual Shopwatch scheme and Sussex Police