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Neighbourhood Watch

15 March 2010

'Report it and Reduce it, or Leave it and Live with it' – that is the slogan of the new Neighbourhood Watch initiative which has begun in Jersey this week as a group of St Brelade residents are given the opportunity to address issues such as crime and vandalism in their area.

A pilot form of the successful UK based scheme – featuring distinctive yellow stickers -  is now operating in the Belle Vue area and will be officially launched on Monday 15 March. The venture, which is hoped will foster community spirit, is a joint initiative between St Brelade’s Honorary Police, the States of Jersey Police, the Jersey Homes Trust and Belle Vue residents.

Speaking about the scheme, head of the operational support unit at the States of Jersey Police Insp Diane Wheeler said, "Once established, the scheme (which is community based) will be run by the residents, for the residents. It has 4 main aims. These are to:

  • deter crime
  • reduce the fear of crime
  • encourage a neighbourhood spirit
  • improve communication between the police and the public

"Although being launched with a relatively small number of residents, we firmly believe that the scheme has the potential to grow and succeed and for other groups to be quickly established - in fact enquiries have already been received from other areas of the Island,"said Insp Wheeler.

Background to Neighbourhood Watch

The scheme was first introduced to the UK in 1982, and since then it has continued to grow. There are now some 160,000 established schemes covering more than 6 million households - over a quarter of all UK homes. Internationally there are schemes in the USA - where the idea started - and as far afield as South Africa and New Zealand.

Community officers from the States of Jersey Police, PCs Simon Allen-Le Bas and Jo Carter, and Centenier Steve Pallett from St Brelade’s Honorary Police have researched the scheme and taken guidance from colleagues in Hampshire Police. Once the scheme is launched, the scheme will be run by the residents with Steve, Jo and Simon acting as points of contact only.

"We feel it is important to emphasise what Neighbourhood Watch isn’t about," said Insp Wheeler, "It is not a vigilante scheme where members patrol the streets, and it isn’t a way to spy on your neighbour."

How it works

The ethos of Neighbourhood Watch is that anyone can enquire about it, and any householder can become a member. A voluntary Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator will be appointed in an area, and this person will be subject to police checks before they are able to hold contact details of the members in their area. The scheme usually requires 1 co-ordinator for every 30 or so householders involved.

Once established in a specific area, Neighbourhood Watch members are asked to watch out for any suspicious activity or vehicles, or anything which looks out of place.

"Someone who lives or works in an area will easily spot something that looks out of place or untoward, often more readily than someone passing through," said Insp Wheeler. Gathering information is like piecing together a jigsaw - the smallest part, no matter how insignificant it may seem, may be part of a much bigger picture. Members should be able to pass this information onto the police via their coordinator without any fear of reprisal or concern that they would be named in any subsequent investigation.

Members are also asked to report any information which they feel can assist the police even where it may seem to be relatively harmless.

The scheme has been supported by the Parish of St Brelade who have funded the signs, and People Against Crime who have funded the production of the scheme window stickers. Both the signs and the stickers will be used to mark out the Neighbourhood Watch territory. It is hoped that the display of membership will act as a deterrent to those considering criminal activity or anti social behaviour, and will also provide reassurance that their neighbours may well be looking out for them.

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