Facewatch, the low level crime-reporting database created by wine bar owner Simon Gordon, is to be made free to UK businesses with a focus on the licensed trade and retailers.
Previously, the scheme cost businesses about £1 a day, but now it will be offered free through a new not for profit company called Facewatch & Partners.
Chaired by Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas, the initiative is expected to make it easier for businesses to work with police to cut crime by enabling businesses to share CCTV images of crimes on their premises directly with police.
Gordon, who came up with the idea for Facewatch after he found it difficult to reduce petty crime in his family’s wine bar – Gordon’s, in London, through the current system, said: “My aim is to reduce low level crime rather than just fill up our prisons with offenders.
“To do this I believe we need to create a strong deterrent and the creation of Facewatch as a national low level crime database which enables all businesses with low level crime problems to be part of the solution, but at no cost to themselves, is a step in the right direction. “
Facewatch, which has been awarded Secured by Design status by the Association of Chief Police Officers, was piloted in London last year before being rolled out to other areas of the country.
The web based system enables customers to record their crime at the pub or bar they are in and receive a crime reference number instantly rather than waiting for the police to issue it. Bar staff can attach CCTV footage and witness statements to the crime reference to provide valid evidence for police. Staff can also cancel a customer’s payment cards if needed.
Mayhew Jonas said: “I am very pleased to chair this exciting initiative which enables the police and businesses to work closely together to reduce low level crime and help to make our communities safer. The new not for profit company, Facewatch & Partners, represents the interests of all our stakeholders including businesses, police, communities and sponsors.”