A PILOT scheme aimed at tackling shoplifting in Barnoldswick is being extended to a neighbouring town after being credited with a drop in offences.

The ShopWatch scheme, launched in Barnoldswick town centre last June, has coincided with a reduction in the number of thefts from shops.

It involves shopkeepers being issued with radios so they can communicate about suspected and known offenders operating in the area.

The positive results have helped Pendle Community Safety Partnership secure a £9,000 grant from the Home Office’s retail Crime Fund.

As a result, the initiative is now being extended to include more than 200 shops across Barnoldswick and Earby. It is hoped it will ensure businesses in West Craven make it through the effects of the recession.

Coun David Whipp, partnership chairman, said: “There's been a steady reduction in serious crime affecting our area in recent years and now we’re putting a new emphasis on shoplifting.

“We need to do all that we can to reduce theft from shops. Every offence can affect the viability of local businesses.

“ShopWatch is a scheme which has shown can cut retail crime by rapid radio communication and excluding troublemakers from stores.

“This funding will improve the receiver in Barnoldswick and pay for additional radios and an extra receiver so we can extend the scheme to Earby.”

There are 186 retailers in Barnoldswick and 56 in Earby.

Shops in the scheme are also linked directly to the police.

PC Brendan Wood, community beat manager for Barnoldswick, said: “Working with local traders, as part of the extended Shopwatch scheme, we’re confident that we can reduce retail crime in Barnoldswick and Earby.

“This type of crime is low and we want to keep it that way because its impact on individual shops can be great.”