17 November 2017

A Christmas initiative will ensure that festive shopping in Sunderland will be safer than ever.

Operation Cracken is a scheme created by the Bridges, Shopwatch, Sunderland Business Improvement District and Northumbria Police, which will focus on creating a safer Sunderland city centre in the run-up to Christmas.

From 24 November, following the Christmas lights switch-on, there will be an additional police presence, along with a targeted campaign to stop crime including shoplifting and all aspects of anti-social behaviour.

“This is the busiest time of the year for retailers in the city centre and it’s important that they are given the best possible chance to operate effectively during this busy time,” said Kirsty Currie of Sunderland BID, who also chairs the city’s Shopwatch scheme.

“And that’s why we have come together with the Bridges and Northumbria Police, to help prevent shoplifting, which can have a negative impact on businesses.”

Duncan Allen, Building and Services Director at the Bridges, added that this initiative showcased how different organisations were working in partnership.

“Everyone involved is working for the same aim – to encourage people to come into the city centre knowing they can shop in a friendly, hassle-free environment,” he said.

Sunderland Central Neighbourhood policing team will provide a visible presence throughout Operation Cracken and they are ready to deal robustly with any offenders who commit crime and disorder over the festive period. 

Sunderland Central Neighbourhood Sergeant Maria Ord said: “As the festive period gets underway, the city centre policing team is gearing up for a busy time too, with high profile patrols taking place across the city. 

 “With extra visitors to the city's shopping areas anticipated, we will be targeting active criminals and doing all we can to prevent crime. We have a clear message to offenders, come here and we will take action against you, if you don't want to spend your Christmas behind bars, then don't commit crime.”

She added: “We recognise effective partnership working is essential in making a safer city so we will continue to work closely with the Bridges, Sunderland Business Improvement District and the Sunderland Shopwatch scheme to ensure a Safer Sunderland for all of our communities and visitors this Christmas."

Anyone with concerns about crime or disorder should contact their local neighbourhood policing team on 101.