There is a common misconception that Neighbourhood Watch was of yesteryear and is no longer relevant. This is not the case. The Home Office lists it as the largest voluntary organisation in the country with a membership that covers more than 3.7 million households in England and Wales. In East Cambs in 2010 there were fewer than 100 neighbourhood watch schemes and in 2016 there are now just over 160 such schemes.
Is this increase in numbers reflected in Chippenham; no, unfortunately, it is not, Chippenham is one of the villages that is under-represented.
You might wonder whether this is important to which the answer must be YES. We are in a period of cuts which is resulting in a reduction of staff within the police and local authority support services. It may not be admitted by the authorities, but reduced staff numbers invariable result in a reduced service. Neighbourhood Watch is in some way filling the gap.
Neighbourhood Watch was established to work with the local police force to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour and also the fear of crime and anti-social behaviour. This support to the police force is as important now as it ever was. The police need the support of residents if crime and disorder is to be contained, and even more so if it is to be reduced.
In addition to supporting the police, Neighbourhood Watch is there to encourage neighbourliness and improve the quality of life for local residents and tenants. Many of the unwanted goings-on that occur in a neighbourhood are not police matters but matters for the local authority; these would include graffiti, fly tipping, dog fouling, abandoned cars, noisy dogs or noisy neighbours and numerous more. Many residents, particularly the elderly fight shy of contacting faceless officials on such matters, but a neighbourhood watch coordinator would be there to fight your corner.
You might ask who this coordinator might be; it is the person designated to oversee a neighbourhood watch scheme usually of about 20 to 50 houses. Might you be such a person?
It is also worth noting that the majority of home insurance companies give a reduction on insurance premiums for residents in a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme. Such reductions are always welcome, but it also serves as a strong endorsement of the benefit of Neighbourhood Watch – large insurance companies are not renowned for giving something for nothing, so they obviously see the benefit.
If you want to keep your neighbourhood safe, or improve safety and security in your neighbourhood, find out how Neighbourhood Watch can help. Phone Kevin Evans on 01353 614892.