PUBS, clubs and shops in East Oxford are to be linked up to a new radio system to help catch criminals.

The new Radio Link scheme, being piloted in the area, allows retailers and licencees to alert police and CCTV operators to any trouble.

Businesses have a radio each and can share information with each other and officers on issues of antisocial behaviour and crime.

The scheme launched in May and has proved so successful that officers are trying to encourage the area’s 25 licensed premises and scores of retailers to sign up.

So far, The Regal, O2 Academy and Clementines clubs, and the City Arms pub are on board, with Boots and Tesco set to follow in the next few weeks.

Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) Jon Morley said: “The more people that are involved, the greater the impact it will have on community safety.

“It has greatly improved our response times for the small jobs that can take a while to get through the call centre.

“It’s also about the community taking ownership over their local area and being able to manage community safety better for themselves and for the public.

“I also think it increases the communication between ourselves and the people we serve and we can take our patrols where they are needed.”

Businesses pay approximately £1 a day for the radio, operated by Southdown Radios, in conjunction with the police.

Pcso Morley said: “Recently, we had a licensee call saying there was potential drug dealing occurring outside his premises on the Cowley Road.

“We were there within a minute and arrested someone for supplying a class B drug.We were also called to reports that kids under 18 were drinking alcohol and we responded and took it off them.”

Last night, Bruno Garcia, manager of Clementines, St Clement’s, said the radios were an “invaluable tool and investment”.

He said: “We saw a fight on the Iffley Road and we used it to call the police. In the past we would have had to go through 999 but with the radio the response is nearly instantaneous.”

Andrew Roache, a spokes- man for the City Arms, said: “It has helped to shorten the lines of communication between local licensed outlets and the police, which can only be a good thing.”

City centre Pc Isaac van den Eshof said there were 120 members signed up to a similar scheme in the city centre.

He said: “The scheme has been running for many years and we hope that the trial in East Oxford is a success.”

Chief Constable Sara Thornton, Thames Valley Police’s top officer, said it was important to get the community involved in improving the safety of East Oxford.

She said: “If there is going to be less police in the future then the public are going to have to get more involved in community safety.”

l Any businesses interested in joining the scheme should contact Pcso Morley on 08458 505505.