Call me a cynic if you like but the arrival of the new Johnstone town centre shop radio link just weeks after a thankfully rare armed robbery could be viewed as a victory for positive public relations.

Whether it’s a victory in the fight against crime, we’ll need to wait and see.

This is undoubtedly a welcome development, but on a wider note it sends out a very sad message about our town at a time when annual ‘Jingle Tills’ headlines are few and far between.

Major cities across Scotland and the wider UK have been employing these methods in the fight against shoplifters and petty crime for many years. Glasgow has literally hundreds of thousands of shoppers bustling in and out of stores at this time of year.

So is it not a sad state of affairs that a town the size of ours, with a strong sense of community and the fact most people know each other that we need a system like this? For me it’s a sign of the times and a sign that the town has deteriorated somewhat in recent years.

Our high street is never so thick with people that you have to weave your way in and out the crowds. Many shopkeepers and staff know most of their customers, in fact I normally bump in to the same old faces two or three times when I’m out and about!

Indeed the aforementioned armed robbers picked one of the BUSIEST days of the year to perpetrate their crime. The Christmas lights were being switched with the funfair in town and the onset of the festive rush. At most other times it would probably have been too quiet to stage such an audacious raid.

Either way, if Johnstone now needs a radio-link between shops to keep staff and customers safe then I’m very disappointed.

These stores serve our town and I’m afraid the criminal element in the area is a very small one that the police are well aware of and should tackle head on. Then there would be no need for this and the community could get on with business.

On a similar note, I read that a 15-year-old girl was sold cigarettes in 90% of shops in Renfrew. I’m surprised it wasn’t 100%. Shopkeepers and local businesses are so hard-pressed at the minute, every penny must be a prisoner.

Sadly it doesn’t make it right. But surely this sends out the message that enforcement of these rules is lacking or that the financial situation is so bad people will break the law to make a living. Something worth thinking about.