Watch helpers ‘vital’ for safety

PUBLISHED: 14:00 05 July 2015

Neighbourhood Watch teams play a key role in keeping communities safe.

Neighbourhood Watch teams play a key role in keeping communities safe.

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“ONLY by empowering our communities to take action can we cut crime together, ensure there are fewer victims and build safer communities.”

That is the message from Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens, who is calling for people to help protect their communities during Neighbourhood Watch Week, which ends on Sunday.

There are 4,000 people supporting NW schemes across the force area, and with two new initiatives being rolled out to help their work, Ms Mountstevens says their efforts have never been more important.

She said: “With over 100,000 homes represented in Neighbourhood Watch schemes within Avon and Somerset it really shows the power of local people in preventing crime.

“The sense of unity that Neighbourhood Watch brings to local communities always comes across strongly when I meet with local groups.

“Neighbourhood Watch plays a vital role in helping keep our communities safe and feeling safe.

“It is clear to see that in many areas communities are looking out for one another and working together to improve safety and the feeling of safety.”

People who are NW members are six times less likely to be burgled, according to statistics, and the force is keen to support that with two new projects.

The first, a home security checker, will see NW teams assess properties for potential vulnerabilities, resulting in bespoke advice on home safety.

Improvements to a community alert service will make it easier to get information about local activity and engage with crime prevention initiatives.

Wedmore’s NW – which has been running since 1995 and covers about 500 homes – is an example of one of the area’s most successesful schemes.

One of the co-ordinators, retired, BT manager Roy Millward, says creating the group was a natural step for an already-active community.

He said: “We were halfway there anyway – one would look after one’s neighbour’s house if they were away and so on.

“Our objectives were to deter crime, report incidents and encourage crime prevention.

“The benefits for the community are for others to say. I hope we are more aware of crime and suspicious incidents are more readily reported.”

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