Business leaders are working alongside police to offer grants for local shops to improve their CCTV.

Dorchester BID have matched the £5,000 grant from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to bring the total money available for the Business Crime Community Fund to £10,000.

Funds will be available for shops to improve existing or first-time installations of cameras, with the grant matching up to £300 for any investment into CCTV when a local business spends up to £600 to install the system.

Hopes are that this will incentivise businesses to have better coverage across the town and curb shoplifting which could lead to more prosecutions in cases.

Research from police last year found that fewer than a quarter of shoplifting crimes in Dorset were resolved with only 710 of the 3,944 cases leading to prosecution. It also showed that shoplifting had risen by 36 per cent in the county within a year.

The stipulation for businesses to receive the grant is that they must make sure that every shop has a camera pointing at the entrance of their establishment.

Phil Gordon, project director of Dorchester BID, says this will help police in tackling shoplifting related crimes.

He said: “The CCTV in the town is pretty good but not brilliant, and if even 30 per cent of the town took up the scheme it would help police secure more convictions of these crimes.

“We need to see an improved vigilance and better networking between local businesses which will lead to a rapid response.

“Generally speaking, Dorchester is extremely safe and friendly town and we don’t see the same level of shoplifting than other towns.

“Any level of shoplifting is too much, and anything we can do to reduce it to zero is such a positive thing.

“This grant will make it more affordable to install the equipment and provide extra security for staff members,” he added.

Police and Crime Commissioner, David Sidwick said: “I hope that this funding will strengthen the partnership working already fostered by our local BIDs and help them deliver lasting change to their areas.

"It is only by working together and sharing intelligence that we can truly tackle the crimes that face our business communities across Dorset.

“I would like to reassure retailers and their staff that such incidents are not treated lightly, and that robust action will be taken against anyone committing such crimes.”

Newsletters with the information on how to apply for a grant have been sent out to businesses, however if any in the town centre have not received this, they are invited to email Mr Gordon on