Shannon Business Watch, first introduced in 2015, has been relaunched by Shannon Chamber in conjunction with An Garda Siochána. This crime prevention programme, designed by An Garda Siochána, is similar to the Neighbourhood Watch and Community Alert scheme, whereby the Gardai and the community come together to prevent and reduce crime; in this instance, the Business Watch scheme’s focus is the business community.

Business Watch Shannon will provide a framework whereby the business community will be collaboratively instrumental in preventing crime in the industrial areas of Shannon. Through awareness and observation, they will become extra ‘eyes and ears’ for the Gardai and act as ‘Watchmen’ to their own and neighbouring premises in the prevention of crime.

Speaking at the launch in Shannon Airport House, Detective Sergeant Kevin O’Hagan said that most crimes are crimes of opportunity and that the Business Watch scheme in Shannon will aim to reduce this opportunity. He urged businesses attending the launch to be vigilant at all times around the vicinity of their respective buildings, to initiate simple procedures to prevent crime from their premises and to work as a team to close down any crime evident in the area.

Shannon Chamber chief executive Helen Downes called on companies to volunteer as Business Watch coordinators for the sections of Shannon they operate from and in doing so to facilitate the formation of an intelligence network system in Shannon.

Garda Catherina O’Rourke, Crime Prevention Officer, Crime Office Prevention Unit, Clare Division urged companies to avail of the free in-company security review available from An Garda Siochána.

Edel Mee, managing director, IT Security People, who described her job working with organisations to improve their IT security profile as the best job ever, brought a new perspective to the launch with her insights into the increasing level of cyber-crime.

“Hackers can sit in the background for long periods. They don’t know what’s of value until they notice it so the challenge for companies is to stop hackers getting into their computer systems. A basic cyber-attack can take up to three weeks to assess and that can be a lot of down time for companies. It’s critical to assess how a company’s operations might be affected by an attack.

“Data and information are the most valuable asset that many organisations have, which makes hardware and software security solutions an important part of every IT infrastructure, which mean users play a vital role in securing a company’s network. One wrong click could bring a network down or cause a GDPR data breach,” she added.

Relaunching Shannon Business Watch scheme, Shannon Chamber chief executive Helen Downes said: “This is another great opportunity for companies throughout Shannon to work together to prevent crime happening in their collective businesses, be that off-line or online crime. By being alert, aware, and a good neighbour, we are encouraging them to report anything they regard as criminally remiss in their areas.

“Business Watch will be managed by a group of coordinators with each coordinator acting as the link between the business community in a specific area of Shannon and the Gardai. Companies noticing anything remiss in their area are requested to contact one of the coordinators – the list will be published on our website in the coming weeks. Our aim is to reduce the level of crime in Shannon to zero; however, Business Watch is not intended, nor is it a substitute for, the daily services that the Shannon Garda station provides,” added Ms Downes.