Neighbourhood Watch volunteer celebrates 30 years in service
14 June 2012
As the final preparations for this year’s National Neighbourhood and Home Watch Week (16 – 24 June) take place, the reasons are varied to why 170,000 coordinators give up so much of their time to Neighbourhood and Home Watch (NHW) – one of the largest voluntary movements in the UK. However, the most poignant triggers to getting involved have been found to be from being a victim of burglary themselves or someone in their street or family having been a victim.
Colleen Atkins MBE describes how and why she first got involved in Neighbourhood Watch at the time when Neighbourhood Watch was an unknown concept in the UK.
Colleen said it was a knock at the door by a policeman which led to one of the first schemes in England being established. The policeman asked her if she had seen anything as a neighbour had been burgled and they had used a removal lorry and cleared the contents of the house out. However, no-one on her street had seen anything.
Concerned about the burglary, Colleen spoken with a neighbour who recalled seeing a programme on television about an initiative in America where neighbours got together to look out for crime and for each other. It was called Neighbourhood Watch. Both women then arranged a meeting with residents and invited the police where some police stated that ‘they didn’t want vigilantes’. Fortunately, the divisional commander did agree and the meeting ended with the Chaucer Road Home Watch being launched. The scheme was an immediate success and the news soon spread.
The first national NHW campaign in 1995 was born from the success of the first Bedford Annual Neighbourhood Watch Week back in 1985. Mrs Colleen Atkins said:
“The week had a different activity each day, including a conference, a family fun day, crime prevention shop, tours of the police station, a quiz and street parties”.
National NHW Week continues to grow from strength to strength with this year’s campaign celebrating the invaluable contributions from all of the volunteers over the last 30 years.
Jim Maddan, the chairman for the Neighbourhood and Home Watch Network (England and Wales), said:
“The value of Neighbourhood and Home Watch schemes and coordinators are still as valid, if not more so then they were 30 years ago.
“By raising the profile of the movement and celebrating our achievements, it is hoped that the Network will trigger even more positive action within local neighbourhoods, enabling communities to take responsibility and make a real difference”.
In support of the honorary work undertaken by the volunteers over the last 30 years, Lord Henley, Minister for Crime Prevention and Anti-Social Behaviour Reduction, said:
“I’d like to congratulate Neighbourhood and Home Watch on its 30th anniversary and pass on my sincere gratitude to its dedicated volunteers who help to fight crime in local areas.
“Everyone has the right to feel safe in their own home and neighbourhood, and voluntary groups play a vital role in empowering communities to work together to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour.
“The government continues to support the efforts of Neighbourhood and Home Watch, and has this year committed £290,000 of funding to help its members promote community activism to keep local areas safe. We are also encouraging organisations such as this to work closely with Police and Crime Commissioners whose role it will be to focus on local policing priorities.”
Mr Rob Beckley, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) portfolio holder for Citizens in Policing said:
“On behalf of ACPO and the Police as a whole I would like to express our support for national Neighbourhood and Home Watch week. This is the perfect time to ensure that communities reflect on the significant achievements of the movement and in establishing an active part of its future to build on previous successes.
“Watch members have a proud history of involvement and volunteering which I am sure will continue and broaden as Neighbourhood and Home Watch extends its reach across the country. I would like to personally thank all members of the movement for the hard work and commitment that everyone has shown in their communities and would like to emphasise that we as a Police service are very proud to have been, and to continue to be, an active and supportive partner."