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Indies awarded £5m in grants to tackle crime

The Home Office has divided up £5m between 1,000 independent retailers in a bid to fight retail crime.

The Retail Crime Action Plan, which is aimed at reducing retail crime among independents, has launched a fund that has been allocated to retailers, including indies and groups of indies that have banded together, in England and Wales.

Businesses were invited to apply for their share of the pot between August and November last year, and the Home Office received about 1,500 applications.

The maximum a retailer can receive is £3,000 and grants were only available to retailers located in 50 areas of the country - including Birmingham, Sheffield and Swansea - which have been deemed to be retail crime hotspots.

Indies can use the money to buy security equipment including alarms, security grills, fraud detection devices and stock control equipment. Grants of up to £50,000 have also been handed out to fund partnership projects where groups of small retailers have joined together to tackle crime in their area.

The Home Office declined to give a breakdown of which retailers had received funding.

Home Office minister Alan Campbell said: “This fund was set up to provide help to the small businesses that need it most. It is just one part of the Government’s work to target the crimes that affect businesses.”

One retail group to receive funding was the Hastings and St Leonards Town Centre Partnership in East Sussex, where some 50 retailers will benefit from the award of £15,000, 10% of which are clothing indies.

Town centre manager Rob Woods said: “We are using the funding to expand our crime watch scheme and to buy radios to give to smaller retailers who don’t have the protection of security in shopping centres and haven’t been able to afford security protection in the past.”

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