HALESOWEN traders hope to stop a gang of prolific shoplifters in their tracks after receiving £9.5k worth of walkie talkies as part of a 'zero tolerance' approach.

BID manager Vicky Rogers took action after a recent spike in crime in the town which she said emerged after it was reported that CCTV cameras were not working.

She put a bid in to Dudley Council's community forum and was awarded £8k towards purchasing the 50 two-way radios - with the BID contributing another £1.5k.

Vicky said: "The two-way radios will be handed out to businesses across the area in a pro-active approach to tackle the issues that have hit Halesowen over the last month.

"Halesowen BID and the businesses that fall under that umbrella are taking a zero tolerance approach to rid the town of unwanted individuals and are working hard with the local neighbourhood policing team to enforce criminal behaviour orders to those that choose to continually offend in our town centre.

"An information sharing agreement with the local police is also being developed.

"We have a town full of passionate people who work day and night to make their businesses work and we refuse to allow this to happen anymore.

"The radios will compliment the local authority cameras that are in full working order.

"Halesowen BID are also looking to enhance the radio system's 24-hour coverage to help to protect the town and the people who live, work and visit here."

Vicky said the was supported by all Halesowen councillors.

Halesowen South councillor David Vickers, who is a former police officer, said: "The two-way radios will be great to help stop prolific shoplifting in the town and to identify the people responsible - they will be able to pass information around quickly and hopefully these people will decide to go elsewhere."

Cllr Vickers said while the cop shop in the Cornbow Centre is a good idea there was no need for more than one PCSO to be there to hear the public's concerns and that other police should be out patrolling the town.

Dudley Council’s community forums have awarded around £205,000 to more than 60 community groups and projects since 2018.

Community forums are organised by Dudley Council with West Midlands Police and take place four times a year.