Hereford & Worcester

Scheme to protect country stores launched in Bromsgrove

Craig Hodson-Walker
Image caption Craig Hodson-Walker was shot dead as he fought with a gunman

A Worcestershire mother whose son was shot dead in front of her when their rural post office was raided is backing a scheme to make shops like hers safer.

Judy Hodson-Walker from Fairfield, near Bromsgrove, hopes the Open All Hours scheme run by the West Mercia Police will help stores alert one another to potential crime.

Her son Craig was killed during the raid in January 2009.

Three men from Birmingham were later jailed for life.

Mrs Hodson-Walker, who named the scheme after Ronnie Barker's classic BBC TV show about a shopkeeper, described the concept as "excellent".

'Reassured'

She said: "It's time independent retailers had more ready access to the police, which is one of the objectives.

"We need to be reassured that when we pick up the phone the police will be there as soon as possible."

More than 50 businesses in the Bromsgrove area, including shops and petrol stations, are signing up to the scheme.

Police regularly visit the businesses and are instructed to provide a visible presence, while traders are encouraged to contact police if they spot any suspicious activity.

Image caption Three men were jailed for life for the raid at the Fairfield shop

Police say that under the scheme, five people have already been arrested on suspicion of going equipped to steal or conspiracy to rob.

Insp Julian Smith said: "Shopkeepers are vulnerable to serious crime such as robbery and assault because of where they are, the fact they are open late when there are fewer people around, and because they have cash on the premises.

"These are people who know who is usually about at 5.30am, know the daily routine around their stores and recognise when things are not normal."

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