AHEAD of the festive period, the Star spoke to the head of St Helens police about advice for business owners and what people can expect.

Following on from Halloween and Bonfire night being a quiet affair in St Helens this year, police are now issuing advice to the public ahead of the festive period when safety and security are a priority for residents as well as business owners.

Speaking to the Star, Superintendent Steve Brizell, who heads up the Community Policing Team at St Helens, also revealed a dedicated local policing team is being formed for the town centre.

He said: “As we move towards Christmas, we are always in the town centre and are there to support local businesses on personal advice on what they can do to avoid fraud and theft.

“We’ve just had the safer business week of action to help and support local businesses and on a personal perspective it’s about common sense in winter months.

“Please leave your car locked while de-icing, de-ice your car when it is locked and not to leave it running, if you have Christmas presents or valuables in the car, please make sure they are out of sight.

St Helens Star: Supt Steve Brizell

“We will as a force be running Operation Shepard which looks at security, safety and reducing crime over the Christmas period.

“We have police officers dedicated to the town centre supporting businesses so if people report incidents to us, we can do something about that and target offenders.

“Shoplifting is a complex societal problem it affects the entire country, but by telling us any issues then we can work with businesses to help them.

“The town centre is always a focus for us locally we run regular operations in the town centre where we look at the night time economy and licencing issues and regulations then raise those with local businesses.

“We are in the process of creating a town centre local policing team which will be a neighbourhood team dedicated to the town centre as we’ve always had a dedicated team but this will be a group dedicated solely on the town centre dealing with any issues and supporting our partners as well which broadly that is crime, disorder, vulnerability and supporting partners to make sure the town centre is as safe and secure as it can be.”

The partnership approach is something Supt Brizell states is key to the success in targeting any issue in St Helens.

He added: “The partnership between Merseyside Police, businesses and the local authority and other partners is absolutely crucial to deliver a safe and secure town centre.

“I understand the town centre is very important to the community of St Helens so it’s rightly a focus for us and we constantly work on, look at and we work successfully.

“An example of that is we’ve just recently were reaccredited with the certification of Purple Flag which states that the town centre is a safe town centre, so people can feel safe coming here and having a drink – in moderation preferably – have something to eat and have a nice time and feel safe and we are proud of that.

“Between police and our partners, we are constantly looking for – and have been successful in -obtaining pots of funding to help and support this such as the PCC, Violence Reduction Partnership, Serious Violence funding from the government which have been used around St Helens and specifically in the town centre.

What can people expect from police at Christmas time?

Supt Brizell added: “Residents will see a lot of police officers around over the Christmas period – like any other time of year – and please feel free to stop and say hello, your local officers are accessible to you.

“The fear of crime far outweighs being the victim of crime, if you have any concerns at any time, please always come to us.

“We’ve got a very strong and agile partnership here in St Helens including the safer St Helens, Riverside, Torus, third sector as well and there is so much going on, including recently putting together funding to provide youth outreach and support families in what we know is a difficult period ahead of the festive time.”