Volunteer campaign to improve watches

The panelists, Community Safety MEC Alan Winde, mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, project manager for the neighbourhood watch programme, Ayesha Fortune, provincial head of visible policing, Brigadier Fred Alexander and business community representative, Crispin Sonn.

A new volunteer campaign hopes to improve the image of neighbourhood watches and get more people involved in the fight against crime.

Community Safety MEC Alan Winde spoke at the launch of the Neighbourhood Watch Volunteerism Campaign at the River Club on Thursday March 28.

The campaign was part of the department’s efforts to professionalise watches, he said.

“The introduction of our new brand shows our commitment to changing the old positioning and stigmas, as we take neighbourhood watches into the future. The community volunteer safety structures are essential in the fight against crime. They have already demonstrated how effective they are in this regard,” said Mr Winde.

Mr Winde praised watch volunteers, saying they had helped to reduce crime by 6.8% for the 2017/2018 period

“My hope is that we will see a further reduction, and by becoming active proponents of crime prevention, we can create safer neighbourhoods, and increase perceptions of safety in our areas.”

During a panel discussion, Brigadier Fred Alexander, provincial head of visible policing, said an integrated approach was needed to fight crime. “We need to squeeze the spaces where criminals operate,” he said.

Crispin Sonn, who represents the business community on Mr Winde’s advisory panel, said resources had to be spent wisely.

“We are up against an organised criminal element and need to start thinking about how we spend money on crime fighting initiatives. We need to start working together and we need to grow and expand neighbourhood watches,” he said.

The department’s project manager for the neighbourhood watch programme, Ayesha Fortune, said community structures knew what was happening on the ground and were trusted.

“These structures have influence and can effect change,” she said.

She added: “If you want your neighbourhood watch to succeed, you need to know what your role and rights are. You need to receive training and have adequate access to resources. We need to have a common goal and a common understanding.”