Plymouth shops to restrict foreign students to beat crime and bad behaviour
FOREIGN students may be restricted from entering Plymouth city centre shops following a surge of shoplifting and unruly behaviour.
Youngsters, in the city to learn the English language, could find that only a few of them will be allowed into stores at any one time, under what is being called Operation Drake.
The police have been working with Plymouth Against Retail Crime (Parc) on the scheme, a report to Plymouth City Council's Growth and Prosperity Overview and Scrutiny Panel says.
The report, to be given by city centre manager Clint Jones to the panel's meeting today, says: "Over the past five years we have seen in Plymouth, especially in the city centre area, a large influx of foreign students.
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"Feedback received from retailers has been that they have experienced an increase in shoplifting and anti-social behaviour from foreign students, incurring large financial loss."
Mr Jones said, in his report, that Parc had been working with PCSO Katy Fisher on Operation Drake "relating to foreign students".
An action plan has three strands:
Special cards for foreign students to carry with them at all times with useful contact numbers.
Special stickers to be displayed in retail premises bearing the Operation Drake logo, limiting the number of students allowed in at any one time.
Posters displayed in all language schools explaining Operation Drake.
Meanwhile, Parc has now banned its 185th person from city centre shops.
Three new exclusion orders were issued during July, August and September, bringing the total to 185 since Parc began in 2002.
Of the total, 17 people are currently covered by an order and if they try to gain admittance to a named shop, they are breaching the order and can be arrested and put before magistrates.
Also, during the quarter, Parc received 236 incident forms from retailers.
Theses are filled out every time staff experience an antisocial or criminal customer, and can be used, even if for relatively minor offences, to build a "portfolio" of incidents against a persistent troublemaker, which could later lead to that person receiving a banning order.
The Parc update to the panel also reveals that in three months 88 violent acts, 68 shop thefts, 11 incidents of people being drunk and disorderly, and eight of criminal damage,were caught on camera by the city centre's CCTV network.
The cameras also helped in the arrest of 100 people involved in assaults, and 39 for drugs offences.
The CCTV team also assisted two police operations.
Parc also reports that Carphone Warehouse and Holland and Barrett have joined the Storenet radio network and their staff were among those from several shops which underwent training.
Storenet connects shops to the city centre's CCTV control room, enabling users to report antisocial behaviour and shoplifting.
The report also said: "All 250-plus Storenet users were contacted immediately following discussion with police in respect of riot procedures in August.
"Three CCTV operators were put on standby in case there were riot problems in Plymouth."