Police praise watchers


Tuesday February 9, 2010

The growing network of neighbourhood watch groups is having a direct effect on cutting crime, according to the borough’s top cop.

Cathy Robertson (left) with Chief Inspector Kevin Hurley

More than 100 neighbourhood watch co-ordinators met behind closed doors with senior police and council bosses last week, to help shape the future of local policing.

At the top-level meeting on February 3, staged at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, Met Police Borough Commander Kevin Hurley told the audience that crimes such as burglary, robbery and motor vehicle theft had all fallen significantly in recent years.

Specifically, he said, there was a direct connection to the increased number of watches in the borough. “Just by watching out and noting any suspicious behaviour neighbourhood watch members are making a big difference.”

Det Ch Supt Hurley added: “Many of the arrests we are making are down to the intelligence we get from vigilant local people who call us.”

In 2005, there were just six schemes working in Hammersmith & Fulham. Five years later, more than 214 streets are covered by a total of 154 local watch groups.

Cathy Robertson, chairwoman of the borough’s Neighbourhood Watch Association, covering all 154 groups, said: “The association has experienced a massive revival over recent years and, with the support of police safer neighbourhood teams and H&F Council, we hope to continue our growth to help make our streets safer.”

The H&F NW Association was set up three years ago to link up the network of watch groups across the borough, so criminals cannot move easily from neighbourhood to neighbourhood.

The meeting also heard presentations from H&F Council’s cabinet member for crime & street scene Cllr Greg Smith, and from District Judge Jeremy Coleman who sits at West London Magistrates’ Court.

Judge Coleman told h&f news: “As a solicitor, and then a judge, I have seen thousands of criminals over the past 35 years, and the one thing they all have in common is they don’t want to get caught.

“Neighbourhood watch groups deter crime as they increase the chance that criminals will be caught.”

The groups work by developing closer links between householders and the local police and council with the aim of helping people protect themselves and their properties.

Burglaries have fallen by 23 per cent across Fulham, West Kensington, Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush over the past 12 months, bucking a Londonwide trend which has seen a five per cent increase in break-ins since the recession began.

Anyone interested in joining or setting up a neighbourhood watch group in their street should contact Inspector Dave Rees at David.Rees@met.police.uk or call 020 8246 2742.