AN EXTRA 200 pairs of eyes will be on the lookout for criminals across the region this Christmas.

Around 200 members of staff and volunteers in the retail, tourism and security industry across North Yorkshire and York have been trained in how to spot potential criminals and those planning to commit crime.

They have received training from North Yorkshire Police’s Project Servator team which aims to disrupt a range of criminal activity, including terrorism, while providing a reassuring presence for the public.

Chief Inspector Fiona Willey, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “Support from businesses, partners and members of the public is vital to the effectiveness of Project Servator.

“This training takes that support to another level and means there is still someone watching and looking out for the signs of suspicious activity if we are not there.

“My thanks go to the many organisations who have embraced Project Servator and recognise its importance.

"Their contribution means that North Yorkshire and York is that little bit safer thanks to their involvement.”

The training included a number of 'ready for anything' volunteers trained to act in the event of a major incident in the county.

And in the run up to Christmas, members of the public are likely to see an increased visible police presence, particularly in crowded places.

Carl Nickson, managing director of York-based Eboracum UK Ltd, one of the businesses which has taken part in the training, said: “The training has been really effective in enhancing our team awareness.

"The programme encourages a mechanism that allows us to quickly identify suspicious activity, whilst at the same time making sure that genuine customers still receive a great interaction with our team members.

"It has opened doors for further partnership work and aligns us all to the same approach.

"This kind of joined-up working works well for us and benefits the whole community - it is now best practice in our business.”