James Brokenshire, the minister for crime prevention, visited Wandsworth today as part of Neighbourhood Watch week to see one of our training sessions in action.

I like to think that Wandsworth was ‘doing’ Big Society long before it became a part of Conservative and government policy. Our commitment to Neighbourhood Watch has been more than just putting up signs; we offer support to get them started, ongoing help and advice once running, central and localised messaging services to keep everyone informed and training sessions to help prepare co-ordinators so they can help in the event of an emergency (from floods and ‘flu, through to terrorism) and are better equipped to look out for and after their neighbours.

And at the risk of being boastful I believe the small team of dedicated staff in in the council’s community safety unit, with the help of partners in the police and fire brigade, and, of course, all the people who are Watch members in Wandsworth have created the best Neighbourhood Watch system in the country.

It has played a key part in making Wandsworth the safest borough in inner London, but that doesn’t mean we should rest on our laurels. Strengthening and expanding Neighbourhood Watch was a key part of the local Conservative manifesto.

The challenge we have now set ourselves is to expand coverage so those who have not traditionally been part of watch schemes, council and social housing, transient populations and large private developments, are covered – while maintaining the high quality of support and training we offer – to ensure everyone has the same opportunity to play a role in making inner London’s safest borough safer still.

I felt these need a bit of perking up, so I’d thought I’d start a…

Fairy cake and a cup of teaPhoto of the week!
The idea was nice, I fairly often take photos – most often with my phone, but I’ll often find myself wondering around with various cameras.

Sadly, when I looked through this week’s photos there wasn’t really anything relevant. The best I could manage was a fairy cake and a cup of tea. Although it was a very nice fairy cake and cup of tea. You might have to get used to it, because despite my failure this week I’ve decided to continue trying to use a photo in this post… and if I haven’t got a good one. This is what you’ll be seeing.

The police, crime and community safety
I’ve spent quite a lot of time on various community safety issues this week. Unfortunately, they don’t make for good blogging because some elements are confidential, some still not ready for public consumption and some, quite frankly, just a bit dull. Necessary, but dull.

However, it’s still a major concern that crime is still up compared to last year. To some degree it was inevitable, crime was incredibly low in Wandsworth last year, but the entire country is seeing an increase in crime rates. Its effect is felt most notably in burglary, and particularly along the Lambeth border (which makes me think I need to look into adapting the crime maps with some boundaries).

While the police and council are doing all they can to fight this, it remains the case that the best way of beating burglars is to prevent it happening in the first place. Make sure your home is secure and doors and windows aren’t left open unattended and, if you don’t already have one, consider starting a Neighbourhood Watch.

How can I not mention chugging?

I really didn’t realise how this would take off. And I certainly didn’t realise the strength of public opinion. Chuggers are not popular people.

I posted about it last week, having mulled the issue over for a week or so. The council also issued a press release, and from there it exploded. It’s been covered by quite a few papers, BBC online and I’ve managed a few radio appearances as a result. Natually, I’m arrogant enough to link to them…

I did the Today programme yesterday – my bit starts around 55 minutes in.

The PRFA responded this morning – this starts around 47 minutes in. I rather like the way he describes half the crowd on Ascot’s ladies’ day as “irritating and startling”.

And finally, there had to be a head-to-head. This happened on the Jeremy Vine show (with Matthew Bannister standing in) this lunchtime – this starts 1 hour and 40 minutes in.

All these links expire a week after the broadcast.

The council’s Community Safety Division, in partnership with the police Safer Neighbourhood Team, are running their crime prevention roadshow at Asda Clapham Junction tomorrow (Saturday 18th).

Staff from Community Safety and the police will both be on hand to offer assistance or advice on all matters relating to crime prevention. ┬áThere’s usually free balloons for children too, and often a councillor unable to resist playing with the helium!

No appointment is necessary, so just pop along to the main entrance to Asda between 11am and 3pm.