What is important for our communities, is, that the communities can actually communicate not only socially but also effectively in relation to helping with the reduction of crime and anti-social behaviour.
Since OWL has been introduced, a communications and data-sharing break has occurred, which makes fast and effective inter-change of data impossible.
The Met Police – in some force areas – has effectively abandoned the National Neighbourhood Watch and Alert system, for which they had a license to directly interact with to use instead OWL.
Yet, many people and Neighbourhood Watch groups are registered with Ourwatch and they use the system to communicate with each other.
Because the Met Police – in some force areas – has decided to no longer pay a license fee to use Neighbourhood Alert, which runs Ourwatch, the police can no longer approve Watch schemes on the system.
Using the OWL system instead, there is no actual interaction between OWL and Ourwatch any longer.
The Mayor of London no longer directly funds Neighbourhood Watch groups or Associations either.
Yet we are being told again and again that the police rely on communities and individuals communications to become aware of and catch criminals.
Those volunteering to run Neighbourhood Watch groups and Associations rely on the safety to know that they cannot be attacked by criminals for doing so.
But, because the police no longer actually vet Neighbourhood Watch volunteers, a huge void has opened up to help keep Neighbourhood Watch Volunteers safe in areas where the police no longer work together with the National Neighbourhood Watch Network.
I have just taken the time to read through some statements and policies and Mayoral candidates for Mayor of London and found that none actually mentions Neighbourhood Watch.
Laurence Fox mentions, ‘touch New York style policing’, which sounds good.
What all those politicians forget however, is that on day to day occurrences, the interaction of the community and the police is vital for which Neighbourhood Watch provides the important basis.
What I would really like to see is a Mayor of London who brings the Neighbourhood Watch systems together and provides real funding for Neighbourhood Watch groups and police to work together instead of just leaving it to volunteers to pop up and create schemes out of their own initiative without police backup.
The only structural system we have in place to serve us are the SNT Panels, which meet 3 times per year.
Neighbourhood Watch groups in Tower Hamlets now need to carry out their own vetting of new coordinators, we have to ask to see ID and proof of address and we have to ask frontline volunteers to obtain DBS checks for themselves to provide some clarity as of their status.
In the past, police vetted each new co-ordinator directly, but they no longer do.
What we need is a Mayor who understands what it means to live somewhere and rely on police and community working together. Please support our work by funding it with voluntary contributions.