It’s received precious little coverage but we are coming towards the end of Neighbourhood Watch week. Most of the coverage there has been seems to have centred on the “tweeting not twitching” soundbite (probably more because of the reference to Twitter than Neighbourhood Watch), indeed, if you are listening to the radio this afternoon you might catch me doing a little spot on it.
I’m in a council limbo at the moment, between jobs (de facto, but not de jure until the council meeting formalises it next month) but it was pleasing to still, technically, be around for conference in Battersea Park the Wandsworth Community Safety Trust funded part of Neighbourhood Watch week, not least because it was the venue Baroness Browning, minister for crime reduction and anti-social behaviour, chose to formally launch the Our Watch website.
Neighbourhood Watch has never been a sexy topic. Perhaps it never will be. But I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve done in Wandsworth, where the council have been responsible for its management (it’s usually a police responsibility) since 1994.
I’m proud with good reason. Wandsworth has a disproportionate share of London’s Watches, of the 8,000 in London, 470 are in Wandsworth – and I’ve no doubt that plays a role in keeping Wandsworth inner London’s safest borough.
We are well ahead of the game on developing Neighbourhood Watch, recognising long ago that it’s about far more than curtain twitching and developing training schemes for members so in the event of disaster or terrorist attack they know what to do to help themselves, their neighbours and keep pressure off the emergency services.
And all this is recognised outside, so when London Fire Brigade were looking for a pilot area for a scheme in which volunteers are available to offer help and support to the victims of fire they chose Wandsworth purely because it had such a well-established base of Neighbourhood Watches that already went beyond the curtain-twitching stereotype.
If you want to find out more you might be interested in the council’s Neighbourhood Watch pages.