#thankyouNW

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Thank you for making the difference and going that extra mile in supporting your community. To access more resources and continue your fantastic work visit www.ourwatch.org.uk

or just contact us on this website if you want to get stuck in with Neighbourhood Watch in Tower Hamlets. We expect our NW volunteers to register with www.ourwatch.org.uk. Browse this website for setting up a NW in your community.

maintain e-mail addresses

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Being in charge of mailing list I cannot help noticing that some email addresses seem to be hacked. When I notice that this is happening, I have no choice but to delete that e-mail address from mailing lists and blocking it.

I cannot stress enough how important it is, that if you use a computer that is in a communal space, that you

  • do not / never save user names and passwords onto the computer
  • change your password at least once a month
  • do not use the same password for more than one service
  • never disclose your password to others
  • Ideally use your own personal device for personal communications

School watch

This type of watch can include the school itself or the immediate area of a school. Schools have an allocated police officer and pupils / students can group to engage with an internal school watch but also parents who collect pupils, together with dedicated pupils can help keep the surrounding area safe before or after school.

Of course schools also have dedicated teachers available to oversea approach and descend to and from schools.

A dedicated school watch group could be integrated with the help of the school governors.

The Met Police business plan 2019 – 2022 is keen to support this, and so are we.

Register as a watch on the Ourwatch website and invite all actively participating, that could include teachers, parents, pupils, staff and geographically mark the area of the school and some surrounding area on the map. Name it as school watch – name of the school. We can also help set this up for you. Contact us if you need assistance.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Get Neighbourhood Watch groups started

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Did you know that your Neighbourhood Watch group can now apply for a grant from the Neighbourhood Watch Network directly up to £500?

The Community Grants scheme is a big boost to local communities.

I support that wholly as properly registered and associated Neighbourhood Watch groups who belong to the Neighbourhood Watch Network, are beneficial to local communities.

Again, I want to stress that OWL is a police messaging system, which gets you onto a mailing list and registers you with a local SNT to get their newsletter or other regional messages from local police or even council’s safety messaging. But, it does not replace properly registered and mapped Neighbourhood Watch groups, which are formed from civilian members who live and work in communities and who work independently from the police.

Met Police are very important partners of Neighbourhood Watch groups but the groups must be run by civlians and locals and not by paid up police officers.

You mustn’t think that if you register with OWL your neighbourhood watch activities are sorted. Being registered mean registering with the Ourwatch website and getting verified with the Neighbourhood Watch Network.

It’s a brillian system, you can

Sadly the Metropolitan Police force has opted not to pay a license fee to use that system but that is due to a lack of funding for police forces generally.

The communal benefit however, to have proper Neighbourhood Watch groups in communities is much greater than just having a register of locals who receive SNT messages or invites to the SNT Panel.

We totally support for Watch group members being on SNT Panels for those who can make the time. In Tower Hamlets many work unusual hours and we want to achieve participation as best as possible so that nobody feels left out of SNT Panel activities.

I will be writing to the Chair of the Safer Neighbourhood Board to initiate a scheme, which allows remote participation for those who cannot attend meetings when they take place because it suits the police time-table.

Extra dangerous fire-proof doors

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As always I am hard at work trying to help improve the lives of local residents. Currently I am involving myself in the latest program of a social housing provider to instal fire-proof front doors for dwellings.

Remember what went wrong in Grenfell, residents warned and complained and nobody listened. When do they ever learn?

Apparently the doors have already been approved for installation without ever any specifications being made available to residents. The residents got to choose the design and colour but not the functionality.

What makes these new doors extra dangerous? It’s the functionality.

Those doors have a vertical locking system that bolts the door into the frame when closed and otherwise just leaves the door open. You read right, open to anyone to open by simply pressing down the door handle from the outside or inside.

From the outside the door won’t close unless it is locked with the key, from the inside the door won’t be closed unless it is bolted with a door knob.

Once inside the home, the resident has no choice but to bolt the door closed by using the knob, there is no keyhole on the inside. Because if you do not use the knob to close the door from the inside, anybody on the outside can open the door by pressing down the door handle.

Fires often break out when people are asleep. When you are asleep your door is bolted. When it is bolted, it is impossible to open. Or you may be awake but a fire breaks out near your front door, you cannot reach it to open it and nobody on the outside can come in to save you as the bolts prevent others from opening the door. You cannot break it down. The whole door frame needs to be removed or it needs a specialist fire-saw to saw through the door by cutting a hole into it.

The other danger of course is forgetfulness. Let’s say you step out of your front door and forget to lock it. Now anybody can just open your door by pressing down the door handle and they are inside your flat.

The likelyhood is that a lot of people forget to lock their front door when they step out, just to pop to the bin chamber, go to the car for example.

Other very likely scenarious are that latch-key children forget to lock the door with the key when they get off to school, that forgetful people forget to lock the door with the key.

One lady remarked that if she left her kids inside whilst she goes to the bin and forgot the key, she could not get back inside. But if the kids can open the door from the inside, they kids can also lock the door from the inside. If a fire breaks out and the kids can’t open that door, nobody can if it is locked for some reason. It just needs a turn of the knob and it is locked, can easily happen in a stressful situation.

Other scenarious could be that if you have taken out an injunction against a person, if the door is not locked anybody can just enter your home at their will if you do not constantly keep it locked.

It takes one extra step to lock your door. Just stepping out and leaving the door to close does not lock it, it simply engages bolts at the top and bottom of the door but the door can easily be opened again by pressing down the door handle. No key is needed.

To lock the door, you need to actually lock it with the key each time you step outside.

I spent some time yesterday speaking to the regional manager of the installation firm and have been assured, that as soon as the door would have a self-locking system it would no longer be called fire-proof.

Classification gone wrong. People be very aware that such doors are very dangerous.

I shall have to try and complain to the landlord currently installing the doors and if that falls on deaf ears, will have to take it to the housing ombudsman.

These doors are totally unsuitable as entry doors for flats.

Met Police site very slow but also better about reporting.

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This site links to the Met Police site often but it has become quite clear that the Met Police website has become very slow when trying to connect to local content.

What has improved is the reporting system, so that we now can report incidents and get a reference number for that. This is hugely welcome.

The whole Met Police website has changed during the last decade and it is no longer possible to simply search for Tower Hamlets and get a Tower Hamlets area home page as a result on the Met Police website.

We have to search by post code to get an extremely slow search result of our SNT areas.

Even though we’ve managed to link directly to SNT areas, it takes a long time for the Met Police website to load each page.

This is due to a technical issue, solely caused by the way the Met Police website is being programmed and coded now.

At the same time, when being registered with OWL, the local area information given is patchy and incomplete. The boundary area of watch groups for example on the OWL website, does not correspond with the area of some watch groups on the Ourwatch website.

It has been the Met Police’s choice to stop paying the licence fee for the use of the Neighbourhood Alert system and replace this with OWL. We get very little from OWL. Also the Met Police no longer verifies watch groups on Ourwatch; this is now left to the Area coordinators.

In my own area, there are no local, area or ward coordinators listed on OWL. There are few messages in terms of alerts to do with local crime. We get SNT area news letter about once a month.

It is beyond me how this OWL system won so many awards. But then I am probably more critical than a lot of people.

This all seems to be a matter of how the Met Police spend their funding and they have decided to spend money on OWL instead of Neighbourhood Alert whilst not being able to connect local content properly now.

You must be registered with OWL to get any Met Police local messages.

Currently most important messages that reach me come from the Neighbourhood Watch system. They post brilliant messages on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Covid-19 in London

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As far as we are concerned, there is a lack of coherent Covid-19 policy in Tower Hamlets.

The Mayor, John Biggs, has asked families not to visit each other but that can’t be the only explanation for the high Covid-19 rates in the borough.

Some residents complaint that their social housing provider doesn’t do enough to make users of communal stairwells and lifts aware of how to stay safe whilst using them. Compared to the safety measures for using lifts in the hospitals, there is little concern about users of communal lifts in housing blocks.

Posters are stuck into staircases with sticky tape and get damaged or fall off and no sanitising liquid is made available for lift users in communal blocks*. We’ve currently taken up a case with a social housing provider with regards to Covid-19 care in the community.

In Tower Hamlets in the week from 22 – 29 September Millwall seems to have had the most cases. See government statistics here.

It doesn’t surprise me that people ask to see evidence that transmission is blamed mainly on family visits. Communal areas are used by all.

*added on 8/10/20 because there were several likes to this post, I must mention that we do not support sanitising liquid being made available in unsupervised communal block entrances, lifts and staircases. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

I would strongly suggest a common sense approach. See also a THH poster made for communal areas.

Hand sanitizer. It is not a good idea and not recommended to put bottles of hand-sanitizer into unsupervised communal areas as this can be misused, as they contain alcohol and also people sharing the same bottle of hand sanitizer will spread germs.

The common sense approach is to

  • wear a face covering when entering the communal areas
  • have your own bottle of hand sanitizer with you
  • only one person at a time in a lift
  • when using stairs keep 2 meters apart
  • of course there are exceptions for people with a carer
  • When leaving the lift after entering your dwelling, wash your hands, remove the face mask.
  • Regularly cleanse and disinfect areas like door knobs, other surfaces you touch regularly like sides of doors, light switches.

We hope that all residents and local area users can enjoy good health. Please look at the recommended health advice on various providers

Distress through major works bills

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Leaseholder’s lives are made difficult by getting major works bills, which are not sufficiently detailed to explain charges.

Apparently bills went out at 2.5 x the original estimate from Tower Hamlets Homes. Rising costs put up the stress for everybody but if people then cannot see a detailed breakdown of costs that effects their quality of life. Such problem cause resentment.

As Neighbourhood Watch Association we support tenants and owners alike. Both suffer from lack of communication and services and both types of residents need to be supported to help communities.

Crime thrives in communities with problems as criminals can exploit those to put a foot in the door and offer alternative ways to make money. Criminals don’t really mind how the problems are created, they just want to exploit them.

Masterdor replacement program

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Government has adviced all landlords to replace any Masterdors because they are the same doors, that were installed at Grenfell Tower and apparently they did not proof to be as good as believed.

Having spoken to a Tower Hamlets Homes Inspector of Works today, I have learned however, that the replacement doors, by default, do not lock upon closing.

I think that is a major security risk and I have pointed this out. May I ask all of you to demand that you get self-locking doors as open doors provide an extra opportunity for thieves.

I have also concerns about the quality of letterboxes on the new doors and have requested an appointment with the manufacturers of the doors as they are likely to be used by most social landlords throughout Tower Hamlets.

Please contact me if you have a problem with the quality of your letter boxes.