Neighbourhood Watch Noodlings

To the Town Council Office! …on Thursday evening. For the second time in two weeks as well.

Move to Wivenhoe, they said. Have some fun; sit around a Town Council chamber and talk about dog pooh.

Life in the fast lane, etc.

Thursday however was certainly a worthy occasion with the January meeting of the Wivenhoe Community Safety and Neighbourhood Watch Group. The agenda covered police reports, local issues and the traditional curtain closer of A.O.B.

But the theme for the evening was more of a probing discussion about Wivenhoe Neighbourhood Watch, what it stands for and what can be achieved.

It was as equally constructive as it was constraining.

The history here is that Wivenhoe Neighborhood Watch covers ALL of a Wivenhoe. That’s 10,000 plus residents, when the usual remit for most other schemes is for a local street. It’s not so much a curtain twitcher’s society, but a body that could – and should – have some real clout when it comes to community matters.

The Chair was as honest as to state that Wivenhoe Neighbourhood Watch currently holds little power:

“We are a talking shop that can hopefully bring together local politicians and the local police.”

A Gazette piece was passed around, covering the news story of how Nick Alston, the recently elected Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex wants more residents to play a role in helping his police force.

Oh the irony of Wivenhoe Neighborhood Watch meeting on the exact same day that the top cop proposed a 3.5% policing precept increase on local Council Tax bills, but fewer Bobbies on the beat to show for it.

The Chair continued:

“We have a sense of frustration, even alienation. We listen to people but we want to extend our profile further in Wivenhoe.”

With The Gazette headline rolling out the We Want You mantra, it was resolved that Wivenhoe Neighbourhood Watch would return the favour to the new Police and Crime Commissioner and invite him to Wivenhoe.

What exactly does he want from Wivenhoe?

And more importantly – what can he offer in return?

“We feel unsupported by the police”

…was another view that was shared around the table.

The agenda then covered the true value of Neighbourhood Watch. Cllr Neil Lodge of Wivenhoe Town Council reported back on a recent firstsite conference covering Integrated Offender Management.

This is a scheme being rolled out across the County with the broad aim of rehabilitation by bringing the different agencies together. ECC, CBC, the probation service, the police, youth offending teams – even Neighbourhood Watch schemes.

The concept is that a community approach might hopefully lead to reduced levels of re-offending. tom.coppin@essex.pnn.police.uk is hopefully but a click away if you want to find out more.

Crime is of course relative, which brings us back to Wivenhoe and what is seen as a low level of offences being committed. Local reports covered a couple of assaults in the past month and the theft of a bicycle.

The volunteer led Speed Watch scheme was also addressed. This is where speeding cars are logged on specific routes. January has been busy it seems. One particular half hour session saw twelve cars being caught doing 40mph plus coming down Alresford Road.

The meeting concluded much in the same way that it started with a conversation about what Wivenhoe Neighbourhood Watch wants to achieve. Better communication with the local police was agreed to be a possible way forward.

To bring out over a dozen or so local residents on a Thursday evening to talk about their concerns has to be seen to be a positive move. With little publicity and little clout, the alternative of not turning up at all would be defeatist.

The next meeting of Wivenhoe Neighbourhood Watch is 28th February at 7:30pm in the Town Council Office.

Participation leads to progress is the theory…

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