BUSINESSES in Shildon are to be given help to protect their premises from thieves following the success of a security scheme in a neighbouring town.

Nine businesses in Bishop Auckland have already benefitted from the Secure Retailer Scheme since it was launched a year ago and a further 13 are awaiting approval for applications.

So far, the Safe Durham Partnership has secured £49,000 in funding from Bishop Auckland and Shildon AAP and other sources to extend the initiative for another year and also make the cash available to retailers in Shildon.

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Kelly Presch, Durham County Council safer communities’ officer, said: “The Secure Retailer Scheme was set up following a spate of burglaries in Bishop Auckland.

“We were aware of the difficulties small businesses often face in improving their security when they have little or no spare cash and saw the need to step in and help.

“The help we have already provided to businesses in the town has shown just how valuable this initiative is to smaller retailers so we are extremely pleased that we are able to continue it for another year and also help businesses in a wider area.”

Grants of up to £2,000 are available to businesses to cover up to 70 per cent of the cost of security measures for their premises.

Help will be targeted at vulnerable businesses and those that have previously been targeted by thieves. Retailers will be nominated for assistance by Durham Police’s neighbourhood policing teams and crime prevention officers.