BUSINESSES in Witham have come together to take a stand against crime.

After a series of break-ins over the past month at town centre businesses, Witham’s MP Priti Patel and the Witham Chamber of Commerce organised a meeting between local police officers and concerned business owners outside the Newland Centre on Friday.

Cabello Hair and Beauty Salon was broken into on August 22, with the suspect making off with around £50 from the float.

Salon owner Kat Berale said: “The businesses all do support each other but particularly when it is regarding crime.

“Just after we were broken into I phoned a lot of other businesses and told them what had happened.

“The main affect has been the mental affect. We stay open until 9pm and the girls are understandably concerned about their safety.”

“Now I monitor the store on cameras. I would never have thought about it before this happened.”

Prezzo in Witham was broken into twice on August 16 and 22.

Petra Lebruskova, manager of Prezzo, said: “Witham is a small town and it is nice that we are all supportive of each other - it adds to the community feel of the town.”

Theresa Finglass and Sandy Murphy from The Dressing Room came along to show their support for their fellow business owners.

Mrs Finglass said: “It is about raising the importance of being vigilant, bringing it to the forefront and reminding people that this is going on and everyone needs to be aware of it.

“As a small business we find it difficult enough without the worry of crime as well.”

Simon Johns and Caroline Seear from Red Group, who help recruit security personnel in the area, were also in attendance to promote proactivity from businesses.

Ms Patel said: “Our local businesses are the backbone of the local economy and it is important the hard work that is put into running an enterprise is not ruined by crime.

“The details of these crimes are truly dreadful and damage Witham’s flourishing business community.

“I am delighted the Police attended to listen to local businesses concerns.

“It is clear that more could be done to improve police presence, through better deployment, around the town.”

Tina Townsend, chairman of the Witham Chamber of Commerce, said: "It's very upsetting for anyone to go through a break in. Both businesses and residents have enough to deal with without this trauma.

"We would like to see more police in the town, it acts as a deterrent, we are committed, as a Chamber, to work with Essex Police to try and find ways to facilitate this and look forward to meeting with them soon but in the meantime we will all still need to do our best to ensure security of both our businesses and our homes."

More information about the Witham Chamber of Commerce can be found at: