Police in Rochdale have opened a town centre ‘cop shop’ in the Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre as a base for patrol officers over the busy Christmas period and to provide shoppers with advice on how they can keep themselves and their property safe.
The Blue Box shop that takes its inspiration from the traditional police telephone box featured as the Tardis in Doctor Who is at the Yorkshire Street entrance to the Wheatsheaf shopping mall and officially opened on Thursday 29 November.
Shoppers will be able to pop into the shop during opening hours, speak to officers from the Rochdale Central neighbourhood policing team and report issues and concerns.
They will also be able to view an exhibition of policing in Rochdale over the years and there will be personal safety themed arts and crafts activities for the children.
The Blue Box will also provide a local facility for officers to deploy from when on town centre operations targeting crimes that can rise in the run up to Christmas such as theft and drink fuelled violence and antisocial behaviour.
The shop will be open throughout December to the public seven days a week 9am to 6pm and will stay open until 8:30pm on Thursdays to support late night shopping evenings.
Inspector Asrar Ul Haq from Rochdale police said: “Christmas is a busy time for everyone and that includes the police.
“Burglars and thieves get extra busy at this time of year trying to get their own Christmas ‘bonus’. The party season can also lead to people drinking too much, making themselves vulnerable to becoming involved in violent crime and antisocial crime either as a victim or offender.
“The shop puts us physically nearer where this criminal activity may take place and also provides us a great platform to talk with people, while they are out shopping or socialising, discussing how they can stop themselves falling victim to crime at this special time of year.
“My advice to shoppers is to call in to see us, tell us what is on your mind and see how we can help you have a peaceful Christmas and a safe New Year.”
Pc Daniel Shirazi who set up and will be managing the facility said: “The Blue Box is the result of a partnership between the police and the Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre and has been financially supported by them and a “pop up” grant from Rochdale MBC.
“The traditional police boxes, like our Blue Box were located in a public place for members of the public to contact the police and also served as a miniature police station for police officers.
“Our Blue Box builds on this and the popularity of the Tardis. I am sure that visitors will be impressed with what we have managed to fit in there and will find our Blue Box experience out of this world”.
People can follow what is happening with the shop on Twitter @GMPRochdaleNrth, #gmpbluebox and on the Rochdale North neighbourhood policing pages on www.gmp.police.uk.
The Blue Box is part of GMP's forcewide Operation Advent that sees officer across the county focusing on the crimes that can increase in the run up to Christmas, such as burglary, car crime, handling and dealing stolen goods, robbery, shoplifting and theft.
Other offences that are an issue around this time of year include drink and drug driving, alcohol-fuelled violence and antisocial behaviour, domestic abuse and sex crimes.
People can follow what police are doing for Operation Advent on GMP’s social media networks that include Twitter (using #GMPadvent) Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and audioBoo.
They can also use these sites to find out what officers are doing to fight crime in their neighbourhood, comment on police activity and get advice on how they can keep themselves and their property safe from criminals.
In addition, there will be an Advent calendar on the GMP website throughout December that will feature short daily video clips of officers giving seasonal crime prevention advice.