The system, which launched last November and enables owners of hospitality businesses to report crimes that happen on their premises directly to the police via special software, has been trialled by Gordon’s near Embankment and businesses in the Victoria Business Improvement District (BID) in central London.
It has proved such a success – practically wiping out incidents of thefts from customers at Gordon’s and cutting crimes dramatically at retail outlets – that it has been adopted by Greater Manchester and Merseyside police forces. A major pub chain is also considering using it across its estate.
Gordon, who came up with the idea for the scheme when he realised the police had so little time to respond to petty crime, said: “We were getting quite a lot of customer thefts at Gordon’s and we wanted to do something for our customers. The whole process of reporting crimes isn’t very efficient, so I thought up the idea of Facewatch with a group of friends.
"In the last year we've had eight people convicted of thefts from Gordon's and crime has dropped dramatically because we're catching the culprits. It's much easier than reporting crimes the old way when a police officer would take CCTV footage away and process everything at the station."
Pubs, restaurants and hotels operating in police districts who sign up to Facewatch can join the scheme at the cost of 99 pence per day, which gives them access to the software.
The software enables staff to record a customer’s crime and their contact details which they send through to the police with relevant CCTV images or footage. Customers are given a crime reference number straight away and can follow the details of their case online.
It helps if a business's local police force is supporting the scheme, because the process is more streamlined, Gordon told BigHospitality, however companies can still use Facewatch if their force isn't involved.
Gordon said: “Places pretend that crime doesn’t happen, but customers are unlikely to come back again if they’ve had something stolen while on your premises and don’t think you’re doing anything about it.
"Now we've launched the scheme nationally we can help businesses across the country. This scheme not only helps solve crimes, but it helps with repeat custom too and that’s what we all want.”
For more information about Facewatch visit www.facewatch.co.uk