Neighbourhood Watch

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ABOUT NEIGHBOURHOOD WATC
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Your job as a member of neighbourhood watch is to be a good neighbour, and by keeping an eye open for anything suspicious you can help make your community more secure.

These are some of the things you should report to the Police:

  • Strangers knocking on doors, peering through windows and then disappearing around the back of the house or loitering suspiciously.
  • Strangers hanging around schools, playing fields etc, and approaching children.
  • Strangers trying car doors.
  • Anything you believe is suspicious, like a suspicious caller to your door, or someone acting as a window cleaner for example and asking if people are in or out during the day.
What to do:
  • Report it to the Police no matter how trivial you think it may be- someone else may have had the same shifty caller.
  • Remember to take accurate descriptions of people or vehicles - registration number and colour.
  • If possible give examples of people and cars that are similar to those you are trying to describe.
What is expected of a co-ordinator / contact person
  • To encourage a friendly, neighbourly community which cares for each other, the elderly and other vulnerable people living within it.
  • To receive and pass on information to householders. If newsletters, for example, are not passed on, time and effort will have been wasted.
  • Contacts should inform their Co-ordinator of any problems with crime, or administration difficulties they may have.
  • Co-ordinators are not mind readers and unless you tell them what you would like to be happening or where there is a problem, they will think the system is running smoothly. It is as much your responsibility to communicate with them as it is for them to communicate with you.
How do you keep the interest going?
The lynch pin of the scheme is the Co-ordinator and therefore his / her enthusiasm is of the utmost importance- get to know your neighbours, try to speak to one or two different people each week. Find out who the elderly or vulnerable people are in your Watch and try to make sure someone looks in on them occasionally. Get your neighbours involved in the scheme- find out if anyone has access to a photocopier, word processer etc. so they can help with the administration and reduce costs. See if someone can help you deliver newsletters or would be willing to take responsibility for some of the houses on the scheme. Keep in touch with your members, copy and give each house a newsletter when it’s published. Send notes of anything unusual or interesting that might be happening in your street or area. Always be cheerful and helpful to neighbours - you don’t have to be nosy or spend hours talking, just a polite word or two when you meet in the street. Make sure you keep a record of names and addresses of your members. Introduce yourself to people who have just moved in and make sure everyone recognises you and knows that you run the Neighbourhood Watch Scheme. Arrange one or two meetings / social evenings each year. Introduce everyone to their neighbours.

ABOUT NEIGHBOURHOOD PREVENTION SCHEME

Although nationally the yearly rate of house burglaries has reduced we must remember always to be vigilant and consider home security. The travelling thief will continue to be the opportunist and choose his targets on first impressions of the house. Secluded buildings set behind screens of foliage, houses with rear access from fields or quiet lanes and those homes that look unoccupied will interest the thieves most.
Some of us can choose our homes we buy, others are residing where their parents have before them or live where they are placed. Wherever we live we can all consider how we live and the amount of effort we need to take to live securely. Neighbourhood Watch has proved extremely successful in reducing crime, however, for Neighbourhood Watch to work the Neighbourhood Watch must be working.

To help you consider the security of your home I have listed below some points that I believe will assist you in achieving a crime free lifestyle:
  • Buy a house in an area that has achieved the Secured by Design award.
  • Fit a burglar alarm.
  • Join and fully support a Neighbourhood Watch.
  • Have good locks fitted to all accessible windows and doors.
  • Always have extra locks fitted to patio doors.
  • Prevent access to the rear of your property.
  • Do not allow foliage to hinder the natural surveillance of your home.
  • Try and make the house look occupied when you are out.
  • Do not allow milk and papers to be left at your front door during the day.
  • Have external lighting fitted that is operated by a dusk to dawn photoelectric switch.
  • Report anything suspicious.
  • Do not allow anyone to enter your home that you have not fully vetted.
This list is not exhaustive, and not one measure on its own will be sufficient to deter all thieves, you must consider each procedure as a step on the ladder to home security.

Your home is your castle and you have the right to prevent access through legal means. Some thieves like to be invited in, these will use all kinds of excuses to talk their way into your home or distract you away from the door so as to allow their accomplice to gain access. The correct use of the door chain and the confident way you request identification will put most artifice criminals off. If you identify anyone who is suspicious calling on a vulnerable neighbour then it is worth calling around and checking if everything is all right (it is harder to deceive two people than one).

If you are unlucky enough to have a burglary the thieves will want to spend as little time as possible in your home, two and a half minutes is a very long time in a place you have no right to be. An alarm bell ringing will greatly reduce their desire to stay. Do not leave money lying around or put all your jewellery in the same place as these are two products that are most sought after in a search for items to steal. They realise that the old handbag in the back of the wardrobe or the bottom of the linen drawer is a good place to find hidden valuables. Ensure that you have photographic evidence of your precious jewellery, silverware, china and paintings. Where possible mark your property with your postcode, record serial numbers, hallmarks, engravings and makers marks. Being able to identify your property wherever it may surface is of great benefit to the Police as it can form most of the evidence to convict the thief.

TOGETHER WE CAN WORK TO REDUCE ALL CRIME

Issues such as drugs, social attitudes, responsibilities and community values are for all members of the public to address. If we can look at how we interact in our community, work hard to foster good relations and keep the neighbourhood spirit focused on refusing to let crime and anti-social behaviour ruin this country then we can continue to achieve a reduction in crime.

You hold the key - take responsibility for your home security, keep doors and windows locked, report anything suspicious and do not allow recidivists to take advantage of our serene part of England here in Somerset.

SHED-U-CATION

Notes to assist you in securing outbuildings.

Please remember that thieves will identify premises to attack by the outward appearance of a property. Thieves may identify these as:
  • An advertised location (garden machinery centre)
  • Most likely location (farm or golf course)
  • Possibly location (home with nice lawn and large hedge)
The larger the premises the more likelihood of expensive equipment being stored. It is then that the thieves need to identify the location of the equipment. In most households the tools and garden equipment are kept in the garden shed or the garage, neither of these premises were designed as a secure storage area.

Thought should be given to the outward security of the premises. It has long been established that if thieves can gain easy access to the rear of the premises, the opportunity to be successful increases. Property that is surrounded by the curtilage of other dwelling tends to be more secure but if access can be gained via communal pathways, open lane or roads then extra measure needs to be taken.

Securing access by gates, fencing or protective planting that restricts entry to the areas of storage. Good lighting that remains on during hours of darkness may deter thieves from entering the area.

Put all tools away and do not leave them in insecure greenhouses, a spade is a very good lever and can force locks or open windows of a house.

Doors of the buildings that are designed to be the main point of entry need security but may not be the only weak point. Windows especially in garden sheds need extra attention and should be grilled from the inside and the view of the internal are a restricted by curtains or opaque window coverings. Sometimes entry is gained by removing roof tiles (if the reward is great enough). Consideration should be given to securing the roof space by grilling or bars. A door, as mentioned earlier is the most common point of entry. Good close shackled padlocks (enclosed in box section if possible) and hasps bolted through the door and frame should be fitted, together with metal plates used behind fittings to add strength to the wood. Hinges would benefit from security screws and bolts and on thicker doors hinge bolts.

Tools should all be post coded by a secure method (engraved or heat marked) serial and model numbers should also be recorded. Hand power tools and portable equipment should not be in open view. Items such as pedal cycles, lawnmowers and boxes with handles should be chained together and secured to a solid structure.

Finally the fitting of a good audible alarm will alert you to the fact that your premises are being attacked and may reduce the loss of your belongings and equipment. Remember, if the miscreants have had the opportunity to see your belongings and equipment (garage door left open) they may return and take advantage at any time, usually after your insurance has paid out and you have replaced the stolen items within the same building.