CRIMINALS in Pendle are to have their details posted online as part of a pioneering digital scheme to prevent shoplifting.

Colne will be the first town in Lancashire using, an information-sharing system helping both businesses and police to share information instantly.

Local traders have backed the move and will soon be provided with radios which are used to alert other ShopWatch users, along with CCTV, images and reports of any incident or suspicious activity.

Grahame Wharton, owner of Grahame’s Poultry and chairman of the town council forum, welcomed the changes.

He said: “It sounds like a really good scheme and it’s good that it’s fast.

“Last month we had a few dodgy £20 notes going around and by the time we had alerted other shopkeepers, it was too late. Hopefully with this, because a text message will go out to everyone straight away, we can catch criminals quicker.”

The scheme will soon replace the town’s current CAT scheme – Colne Against Thieves – which sees shopkeepers having their own ‘rogues gallery’ of offenders behind the counter.

ShopWatch online is also supported by other police forces in the UK to combat city and town centre crimes.

Colne PCSO Ivan Hartley also welcomed the latest digital move and said he was currently updating the ShopWatch website, which would be ready to launch within the next month.

He said: “We are proud to be the first town in Lancashire offering this service.

“And because almost everybody has internet access, it is a better and faster way to communicate.

“I am currently in the process of transferring data and almost 70 businesses in Colne will be on board.

“Old methods such as telephone or two-way radios are very slow and labour intensive, and can be very expensive.

“This scheme is really cheap and makes it easy to communicate.”