Neighbourhood Watch praised


Thursday March 1, 2012
The event taking place in the Lyric Theatre's studio auditorium

The more information we get from residents – the more we can disrupt and catch criminals.

This was the message that the Police Borough Commander delivered to 80 of the borough’s Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators who packed into the Lyric Theatre on February 21.

Chief Superintendent Lucy D’Orsi praised community spirited residents and Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators in particular saying: “Neighbourhood Watch helps us make the borough safer as they help prevent crime by getting sensible advice out to the community and they also help by passing us intelligence on the ground. Residents can be our eyes and ears and my plea is that no bit of intelligence is too small to tell us about.”

The panel – which included the Borough Commander as well as Ch Insp Nigel Crane, who is in charge of the borough’s Safer Neighbourhoods Teams (SNT) and Cllr Greg Smith, H&F Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Leisure and Residents’ Services – fielded questions on a range of topics from alcohol related disorder and burglaries to the handovers when SNT staff are promoted or moved out of a particular ward.

Cllr Greg Smith said: “The council is very proud of the borough’s thriving Neighbourhood Watch network and, from just six schemes six years ago, we now have more than 200 streets covered with active watches. I would like to thank everyone who gives their time to help make this borough safer and encourage anyone who has not already joined to sign-up as Neighbourhood Watch really does make a difference.”

The meeting heard that overall crime looks set to fall again in the borough this year after a small rise last year and key crimes, like burglary, are significantly down.

Lesley Spires, from Perrers Road and Atwood NHW, says: “Neighbourhood Watch is about self resilience and helping each other to help ourselves so we can support the work of our local SNTs in making our streets safer. To anyone who has not joined Neighbourhood Watch yet I would say it is not a burden or onerous in anyway and you don’t have to go to loads of meetings if you are very busy. It is a good way to get to know your neighbours and it does contribute to making our borough safer.”

If you would like to join one of the borough’s existing schemes or if you are thinking of starting a new one then the next step is to contact your local SNT who work closely with residents in each of the borough’s 16 wards.

Case study

Pictured: Cllr Greg Smith, Cllr Belinda Donovan, Julie Farn, Karen Burltan, Howard Weinberg, Annette Alexander and PCSO William Noble

The Neighbourhood Watch scheme at Addison Gardens was set up in 2009 by Naomi Goodman and Amanda Evans.

Three years on, what began as a two-man team has now grown in membership, covering the whole street.

The group meets formally at least twice a year, and events have included a bike marking session with equipment that identifies the bike, should it be stolen, and there is a social side to the watch too, with members enjoying a fun Christmas party. Several schemes are also now beginning to plan street parties for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics.

A recent incident shows how invaluable the scheme has become – a local resident called the police to report an attempted burglary while it was happening and gave so much detail over the phone that the criminals were caught there and then.

Julie Farn, who chairs the Addison ward panel, said: “As a Neighbourhood Watch coordinator myself, I understand the essential part that Neighbourhood Watch plays within our local streets. Working with each other as well as with our wonderful SNTs, creates an invaluable tool with which to fight against the crimes which threaten our daily lives.”

Cllr Belinda Donovan, H&F Council’s Assistant Cabinet Member for Environment, Leisure and Residents’ Services, said: “Neighbourhood Watch is an important way of keeping our streets safe and cutting down on crime, and it also is a helpful way to bring communities together. We have hundreds of schemes running in the borough now and the number of watches looks set to grow further, which can only be a good thing.”