NEARLY 200 members of staff and volunteers in the retail, tourism and security industry across York and North Yorkshire have been trained in how to spot potential criminals and those planning to commit crime.

They have received training from North Yorkshire Police’s Project Servator team.

It means that there are now another 200 pairs of eyes at key locations in the county watching out for the signs of potential criminal activity in addition to the force’s unpredictable policing deployments under Project Servator.

Project Servator was introduced in North Yorkshire in April 2017 and is designed to disrupt a range of criminal activity, including terrorism, while providing a reassuring presence for the public.

Chief inspector Fiona Willey, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “Support from businesses, partners and members of the public is vital to the effectiveness of Project Servator.

“This training takes that support to another level and means there is still someone watching and looking out for the signs of suspicious activity if we are not there.

“My thanks go to the many organisations who have embraced Project Servator and recognise its importance. Their contribution means that North Yorkshire and York is that little bit safer thanks to their involvement.”

Carl Nickson, managing director of York-based Eboracum UK Ltd, one of the businesses which has taken part in the training, added: “The training has been really effective in enhancing our team awareness. The programme encourages a mechanism that allows us to quickly identify suspicious activity, whilst at the same time making sure that genuine customers still receive a great interaction with our team members. It has opened doors for further partnership work and aligns us all to the same approach. This kind of joined-up working works well for us and benefits the whole community - it is now best practice in our business.”

Matthew Nicholson, head of operations at Castle Howard, commented: “We were very pleased to be working with North Yorkshire Police and found the training very beneficial. Over 90 staff attended the training exercise over two days and the feedback was extremely positive.

"In the run up to our busiest time of year we felt it appropriate to train all of our front line staff on the measures we can take to protect them and our visitors and how by doing so we can help North Yorkshire Police in deterring serious crime and acts of terrorism."

The training also included a number of 'Ready for Anything' volunteers who swing into action in the event of a major incident. Tim Townsend, senior resilience and emergencies officers at North Yorkshire County Council, said: “There was a strong feeling that you had helped them to feel a part of the wider emergency service response, even though it could have been aimed at any member of the public, there was clearly and direct relevance to the roles that the volunteers could carry out.”

A further 40 people at different organisations are due to be trained over the next few months.

In the run up to Christmas members of the public are likely to see an increased visible police presence, particularly in crowded places.

A spokesperson for North Yorkshire Police said: "Don’t be alarmed, this is normal and planned policing tactics to help keep people safe and prevent crime – from thefts to terrorism."

To report suspicious activity, call the police on 101, or 999 in an emergency. You can also report suspicious activity that you believe may be linked to terrorism confidentially on 0800 789 321 or online at the Action Counters Terrorism website

"Don’t worry that it may not be, trust your instincts and report it as any piece of information could be important, it is better to be safe," the spokesperson said.