Neighbourhood Watch Notes
A South Northants Regional Meeting was held on 17th January by Zoom. This, for various reasons, was the first such meeting since May last year and saw the introduction of a new County Chair/Lead and a new Regional Chair. During the meeting we welcomed the Police commander for the Daventry area, Inspector David Wakeman, who spoke about his priorities and shared some of his thoughts for policing in his area. I suppose these would not be a million miles from the priorities and aims for our (Silverstone) area.
We discussed these priorities and aims and understood that Modernisation, Engagement and Communications were at the top of the list. These three activities put together should lead to a better, more unified system for combatting crime in our area. It was agreed, however, to make these succeed Engagement was high on the list especially if younger people could be brought into the fold. It is recognised that NW appears to be populated with the older generations as they may have more time and while not necessarily retired are perhaps not preoccupied with very active jobs and families.
When Inspector Wakeman spoke he explained his priorities for policing; these being drug and vehicle crime. In explaining these further, the drug scene involved not only the use of drugs amongst, mainly, the younger age groups but also the trafficking through the area. Vehicle crime not only included theft from vehicles, which is on the increase, but also theft of agricultural equipment. He commented that while reports were coming in it is important that the Vehicle Registration Number (VRN) is noted so that the police can track the vehicles and link crimes.
The Inspector explained that when reporting suspicious activity, the person reporting the suspicion should try and establish what is going on and not to report perfectly normal legal activities. He sited a couple of examples. Firstly, a group of people walking through a village. They were only suspicious because they weren’t from the village but a perfectly legal activity. Secondly a few reports of suspicious vehicles turned out to be visiting relatives and in one instance a care worker!
Having said that however we need to be aware of what is going on around us in the village and within the bounds of Data Protection we should be aware of what is normal activity, we have walkers on the Jurassic Trail in our village for example, and what is out of the ordinary. We should be aware of developing patterns of activity such as laybys being used as meeting points on a regular basis. I am quite happy to maintain these lists.
We went on to discuss crime data and it was understood that we are, in both a national and county sense, in a Low Crime Area. That does not mean we have no crime, on the contrary crime is inevitably increasing just the rate of increase for our area is lower than elsewhere. This of course gives us an interesting question. How do we maintain an interest in crime prevention when there isn’t any? We also have to couple that with a decline in changes in the use of social media. There is now a range of platforms used. Perhaps one answer is to increase the use of Neighbourhood Alerts. These alerts are separate from the Neighbourhood Watch scheme and are generated by the police to pass information into the communities. Being separate, of course, we do not know who is on the list to receive the Alerts and because of Data Protection the police are reluctant to release the figure.
There is a feeling generally, that feedback from the police is slow and sometimes even non-existent. We need to keep a check and record any feedback we do receive. I feel generally though that the feedback we receive from our local team is quite good. I would welcome any comments on that.
Over the last few months of last year, the county NW team ran a consultation and from the conclusions of this there is a need to develop tangible actions. Some will inevitably be driven by the county, but some will be driven by the local communities. I will enlarge on these finding shortly in a separate mail.
To sum up we need to consider how we can engage more with younger people in our community, increase the use of Alerts and generally bring the village to a state where if something does happen, we are best prepared to deal with it. Of course, the jury is out on what the threats and risks are!