WILTSHIRE Police will bring back Operation Dasher next week to help keep shoppers safe during the festive season.

Police officers, PCSOs and special constables will conduct high-visibility patrols across the town centre, Old Town and other shopping areas from Wednesday until Christmas Eve.

PC Paul Bezzant said: “We’ve been running Op Dasher at Christmas for several years and have seen a noticeable reduction in crime as a result. I am hoping this continues once again.

“As well as deploying teams of officers to the town centre and Old Town, we’ll also be carrying out patrols in areas such as Greenbridge, Mannington Retail Park and the Orbital.

“We know these areas will be particularly busy in the run up to the big day and as well as providing a reassuring presence, we also hope we will act as a deterrent to anyone considering committing crime such as anti-social behaviour and theft.”

The operation is supported by inSwindon BID’s street team, Swindon Borough Council CCTV operators and store security.

Officers will meet with the inSwindon BID team daily to share intelligence and any other relevant information which will be given to businesses and shops.

PC Bezzant added: “The more eyes and ears we have looking out for and reporting crime, the better.”

CEO of inSwindon BID Di Powell said: “Christmas is such an important time for Swindon town centre retailers and shoppers and we fully support Operation Dasher. Visitors should always feel safe and enjoy their Christmas shopping experience in Swindon town centre. An enhanced police presence will help shoppers feel secure.

“It supports our local businesses, enabling them to concentrate on customer service and enjoying a merry and prosperous Christmas period for themselves, their families and their community.”

Police issued the following advice:

:: Call police on 101, or 999 in an emergency, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

:: Keep purses and handbags with you at all times with a minimum of cash. Mobile phones and wallets in back pockets are a target so keep them secure and out of sight.

:: Be careful at cash machines and when paying by card - shield the PIN at all times.

:: Don’t leave Christmas presents or valuables like laptops, mobile phones, handbags, credit cards or cheque books in your car. If you must, put them in the boot and ensure equipment is completely switched off.

:: Remove satnavs, clean away suction marks on windows and make sure car doors, windows and sun roofs are all properly closed and locked.

:: Leave nothing on show - you may know that there is no wallet in your jacket, but a thief will break a window just to check.

:: Remove tools from you van overnight and display an appropriate sign in the rear window making this clear.