Neighbourhood Watch contributes to community health and will be the driving force for community cohesion.
We are all neighbours in a multi-cultural society of contrasting lifestyles and community groups.
Tower Hamlets is the inner city borough, which contrasts completely the traditional rural village.
Looking at my own family the village consisted of around 500 residents who all owned their houses and resided there for hundreds of years. It was a ready-made, already functioning community. Neighbourhood Watch came naturally with the desire to work together and protect the assets of the individual and the community. Everyone knew everybody else.
In the village you probably have 100 home owners to build a Neighbourhood Watch in Tower Hamlets we have
- an area of 7633 square miles
- population of 325.000
- equally large ethnicity of white & mixed white followed by Bangladeshi
- List of 50 approved and affordable housing providers
- List of 200 estate agents
- plus luxury housing developments
The difference in communtiy couldn’t be bigger.
People also no longer reside in a dwelling for life generally, they move and change employments more often.
Building a Neighbourhood Watch community needs a new approach.
The first task is to approach all residents and make them aware that joining a local Neighbourhood Watch scheme will equip them with the knowledge they need to fend off
- anti-social behaviour
- risk of theft and damage to property
- online fraudulent phishing scams.
Knowing that a lot of residents come to live in Britain for the first time, do not know the language, practise a variety of religions and do not know much of the structure of law and order, we need to start somewhere to familiarise residents with their best options.
There are six options to approach everyone
- Internet communications
- Social meetings
- Safer Neighbourhoods
1. Housing. If all those who provide abode to residents in Tower Hamlets show residents the ability to connect to police communications via OWL and National Neighbourhood Alert messages from Neighbourhood Alert, they are already able to get safety messages. It is my aim to get all housing providers, whether estate agents or social landlords, to tell all residents, at the point of moving in, that Neighbourhood Watch schemes are available in the area.
2. Employment. Work place environments should remind people to connect to a local Neighbourhood Watch schemes to improve the safety of their home and their journey to and from work. I’ll need to get in touch with various organisations about that. There are large employers like the Council, NHS and Canary Wharf, TfL plus a lot of small business. People no longer work 9 – 5, many work shifts, weekends and often change jobs.
3. Education. There are many schools in Tower Hamlets. A wide range of providers from private schools to Free schools. Police officers are stationed in many schools and can reach pupils to steer them towards responsible citizenship. Perhaps community cohesion through Neighbourhood Watch could be on the curriculum.
4. Internet Communications. The web is available for everyone to use. But, there is a lot of information out there and people may find it difficult to actually see the information required. I have set up this website for residents and also a new Twitter account. Seeing that in Tower Hamlets only 50 % of residents currently use the Internet and only 11% use APPS, we need to bridge that time until all have access to the WWW with approaching communities where they are.
5. Social meeting. Large swathes of the population are meeting up in churches. I’ll contact major faith groups in Tower Hamlets to ask them to promote Neighbourhood Watch to their communities.
6. Safer Neighbourhoods. The Met Police currently makes 2 SNT officers available per ward that is a maximum of 40 officers for 20 wards for a population of 325.000. All Neighbourhood Watch groups need to be verified and communicated with either directly or via the Safer Neighbourhood Panels, which meet 3 times per year. The Neighbourhood Watch Association asks all interested to do as much preparatory work as possible via the Association and involve the police officers for the final agreements and setting up procedure. We must remind ourselves that OWL is only used by 12 Greater London borougths at present. It is used by the Met Police to distribute messages to local communities.
Wish me luck and please do come forward and contact me if you can help.
Remember: We are all Neighbours