A FORMER plain-clothes store detective is one of two new guides helping visitors to Solihull town centre.
The borough now has five Town Hosts employed by Solihull Business Improvement District (BID) to support shops and companies by patrolling the town centre and guiding visitors. They also have radio links to the CCTV control centre.
All Town Hosts have been given additional crime prevention training after a proposal to cut police community support officer (PCSO) numbers in the borough was announced in December.
West Midlands Police is proposing to take hundreds of police community support officers (PCSOs) off the streets by 2020, part of the force’s WMP2020 consultation plan which sets out how it will operate in future as it makes savings of £130 million.
Solihull BID’s Town Hosts have now been given Security Industry Association (SIA) training to Door Supervisor Level as well as instruction in conflict management, self-defence and legal advice.
The two new Town Hosts are Philipa Reynolds and Julie Fox. They join existing hosts John Gilmore, Emma Turnbull and Emma Monnington.
“I’m able to bring an array of skills to the varied role of Town Host,” said Julie.
“My early years saw me fully trained as a plain-clothed store detective in a large department store, where I was also an active first-aider.
“Since then I’ve been in retail management where I’ve honed my customer service skills.
“I look forward to meeting more of the people who make Solihull such a vibrant place to be.”
Solihull Retail Crime Initiative is chaired by BID Operations Manager John Timms, who added: “The Hosts not only provide a valuable and informative point of contact and support to businesses within Solihull town centre they are also very engaged with the visitor, too.
“All are first aid-trained and can offer initial help and treatment to anyone that needs it, as well as being a vital link when it comes to dealing with lost children and vulnerable adults.
“The approachable style that the Hosts adopt means that businesses and visitors alike feel comfortable in approaching them, this all goes to help promote Solihull as a safe and secure environment in which to do business and enjoy a great visitor experience.”