More cop shops could open in supermarkets and c-stores throughout England and Wales as part of the government’s Respect Action Plan, launched by Tony Blair this week.
Neighbourhood policing plays a huge part in the Prime Minister’s plans to clamp down on anti-social behaviour and funding has been committed to creating neighbourhood policing teams and increasing the number of community support officers from 6,000 to 24,000 over the next two years.
Under the scheme there is the potential to increase the number of partnerships between retailers and the police by setting up police offices in stores. Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury and The Co-operative Group have already set up such stations with South Wales police.
Metropolitan Police are looking to set up 150 non-police premises, which will include grocery stores, by April 2007.
A spokesman for the Home Office said: “Cop shops are an example of a really good policy that we encourage.”
The Co-operative Group’s first cop shop was opened in April last year at its Eltham store in south-east London with the Metropolitan Police. It opened three others in South Wales last month and is in talks with North Wales Police and the Avon and Somerset Constabulary to develop more cop shops.
A spokesman for The Co-operative Group said: “The feedback we have been getting has been great - having police based in-store is benefiting us, the police and our customers.”
Blair’s Respect initiative includes increasing on-the-spot fines for shoplifting and criminal damage from £80 to £100. Fines for retailer workers caught selling alcohol to under-18s and drunks will also increase to £100. And pilots are underway in 10 authorities to introduce on-the-spot fines for under-16s for the first time.