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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

Neighbour meeting a hit

THE first board meeting of the Cumbria Neighbourhood Watch Association to be held in Barrow was hailed a success.

By Jon Simpson

The meeting, at the fire station in Phoenix Road on Saturday, attracted around a dozen members of the public.

Its appearance in Barrow instead of the north of the county was pushed for by watch coordinators such as Freddie Harris, an NHW coordinator from Kirkby.

He said: “I thought it would be a good idea if the board actually took this around the county and met the people it is representing.

“It is an experiment to see if it works and I think it has been a success.

“Hopefully we will get more people next time. The more people that get involved in Neighbourhood Watch the safer the area is going to be.”

Attendees were briefed on changes to police support for the crime deterring group in the south of county, where funding for two part time development officers is being axed this month.

But the changes will also see new links built between the coordinators and neighbourhood policing teams in the area.

Sergeant Andy Baines, of Cumbria Constabulary, who is responsible for developing the force’s relationship with NHW at the grassroots level, said he believed its contacts with the police will be enhanced over the coming months.

He said: “To clarify the point, the two part-time posts together did not total 30 hours per week. Twenty-eight police community support officers, community constables and police staff in the Barrow and Kendal area have already been trained in the process of supporting and developing Neighbourhood Watch members post March 31, with more training planned in the coming weeks and months.”

The police also keep in touch with the grassroots neighbourhood watchers and recruit their help through voice net systems that can send text, voice and email warnings.

In 2007/2008 Cumbria police received 880 calls from neighbourhood watchers which led to the arrest of 30 people for crimes range from criminal damage and assault to burglary.

Sgt Baines told the meeting the new agreement being set up between neighbourhood watches and the police was a broader remit including local authorities and the fire service.

The aim is to tackle a spectrum of problems, from combating crime and anti social behaviour, to dog fouling, environmental protection and litter.

Neighbourhood Watch programmes guard around 32,000 homes in the county, and variants include Farm Watch and Poacher Watch.

Membership of Farmwatch has risen from less than 200 in 2004 to 1060 in February 2009.

There are 2,700 members of Neighbourhood Watch in the county, and around 1,350 are coordinators.

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