City Safe: Reducing crime and creating a safe and secure Birmingham city centre

A new organisation called City Safe has been launched to tackle business crime and create a more welcoming environment in Birmingham city centre, providing businesses with the latest digital radios, access to a secure two-way network and a text messaging system giving the ability to identify and respond to issues immediately.

Led by Retail BID Birmingham, the Business Improvement District for the city centre retail area and working in partnership with West Midlands Police and British Transport Police, City Safe has been brought about in response to Retail BID members who are becoming increasingly concerned about business crime and the impact of anti-social behaviour on the safety of staff and visitors.

Responding to the needs of businesses, the organisation’s prime focus is to reduce crime and to help create a safe and secure city centre. Prior to today’s launch, more than 45 partners have signed up and trialled the radio network, which is monitored by West Midlands Police and the Police camera control room. It is the first time a digital network has been put in place for this purpose.

Within the first hour of its trial period, City Safe identified a travelling criminal in possession of £6,000 of stolen goods.

The City Safe steering group will lead on its direction and is made up of managers from Retail BID, Bullring and Grand Central, Mailbox, Selfridges, John Lewis, Boots, H&M, Primark, British Transport Police and West Midlands Police. It has the support of Birmingham City Council.

City Safe will tackle crime issues differently and adopt a community approach to support businesses with instantaneous data and intelligence sent to the mobile devices of those signed-up. The organisation will be GDPR compliant and use closed networks for all communication.

City Safe is a member of the National Association of Business Crime Partnerships (NABCP) and is being managed by Jonathan Cheetham, formerly general manager of the Grand Central and Pallasades centres and the previous Chair of Retail BID Birmingham.

“Our members were becoming increasingly concerned about business crime and the impact of anti-social behaviour on the safety and wellbeing of their staff, visitors and customers and asked for our support to combat these issues,” said Mr Cheetham.

“City Safe was created to deliver a solution, recognise and take ownership of issues, with its sole purpose being to support, assist and strengthen the effectiveness of our members in resisting the burdens to wellbeing, safety and profitability which business crime imposes on them.

“We are harnessing the latest technology, giving our partners communication via a digital radio network with instant text-messaging ability coupled with a secure digital data and imaging system enabling clear identification of issues. Over the last two months we have trialled and tested our radio system prior to launching and the successes we have had in identifying crime, the performance of the system and the subsequent arrests has exceeded our expectations.

“As membership increases, this technology and sharing will become more effective as the data trends will expose and help eliminate criminality, creating value commercially, environmentally and societally for the city. The use and sharing of intelligence data in this way is something not currently done,” added Jonathan.

“Our goals are clear: to approach tackling crime as a business using the organisation’s existing skills for the benefit of all our members who will be given access to training and support in anti-crime and safety initiatives.

“Our objective is to create a city-wide platform at modest cost for all to join to enable a transparent and co-ordinated approach in communication and assistance, improving and strengthening the safety of our city, learning from each other and thus creating value for all our partners.”

To join City Safe call 0121 389 8809 or email citysafe@retailbirmingham.co.uk or visit www.citysafebirmingham.co.uk