The Safe City Centres Initiative has already resulted in reduced violence, intimidation and anti-social behaviour against shopworkers and customers in cities including Aberdeen, Glasgow and Stirling.
Now, the scheme is being extended to help town centre managers build on that success, and pilot schemes are running in 11 town centres throughout Scotland.
Falkirk, Paisley, East Kilbride, Invergordon, Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy, Fraserburgh, Musselburgh, Tranent, Glenrothes and Peterhead are the pilot towns. This means they will introduce measures such as CCTV, radio links, photograph and information sharing, and exclusion orders.
Deputy justice minister Hugh Henry said:
'I want people to feel safe in their homes and when out on their daily business. However, crime prevention - and particularly business crime prevention - is not just a matter for the police. If business crime is to be tackled effectively, the Executive, police, local authorities and businesses must all play a prominent and active role.
'We have already seen the success of the Safe City Centres Initiative in addressing business crime in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Perth and Stirling. I want to see our towns benefiting too. That's why this scheme is now being piloted in smaller urban areas across Scotland to create safer communities where people can live and work without the fear of becoming a victim of crime.
'Shops are at the heart of our town centres and therefore it's in all our interests to ensure these businesses can continue to thrive and help us create a smarter, more successful Scotland with reduced crime and a reduced fear of crime.'
Alan Dobie, executive director of the Scottish Business Crime Centre said:
'I am delighted that this successful platform is being used to launch the Safe Towns Initiative thus providing an ideal opportunity to share good practice between towns and cities throughout Scotland.
'I believe the natural move from Safe Cities to Safe Towns will have a significant bearing on the view of how our town and city centres can work together to provide safer environments where people can work, visit and socialise in comfort.'
Key objectives for the initiative are to:
create safe and secure town centres
build stronger communities through partnership working
reduce criminal opportunity
reduce anti-social behaviour
reduce the fear of crime
secure the future prosperity of Scottish towns
At the end of the trial period, the towns involved will also be required to make recommendations to the Executive on the way forward. This will help create a model which can be used in other towns in Scotland.
The Executive is committed to funding the Safe City Centres Initiative until March 2006. The cost of both schemes including the salaries of two national development officers and the evaluation is£1.2m.
The measurement of success will be based on comparisons of the recorded crime in the pilot city areas prior to the initiative's launch and the two years after its launch. This will include statistics on shop theft, vandalism and disorder. These will also be compared with crime figures in four towns not involved in the project.