The money has been awarded by the Community Action against Crime Innovation Fund which encourages creative new approaches to tackling crime. Grants are offered to local projects to encourage greater community activism and enable communities to develop innovative approaches to tackling the local crime issues that matter to them.
The money will be used by volunteers to start up new Street Watch schemes in the Downside area of Dunstable, as well as the Tithe Farm and Sandringham Drive areas of Houghton Regis where higher levels of Anti-Social Behaviour, Serious Acquisitive Crime and domestic burglary have been identified
Street Watch - which has been rolled out at various locations in Central Bedfordshire since April 2010 – is about local residents helping to build stronger and safer neighbourhoods by patrolling their own streets, identifying and resolving low levels of nuisance and anti-social behaviour, increasing the feeling of safety and to increase a sense of community cohesion within their local area.
It is emphasised that Street Watch members are not doing the job of police officers or PCSOs and have no more power than ordinary citizens. Instead the purpose of Street Watch is to prevent crime by increasing visibility, maintaining effective communication and reporting to police and increasing feelings of safety and community spirit.
Each scheme relies on Street Watch finding coordinators and volunteers prepared to give two hours each month and keep the national web site up to date with what they are doing and where. They also have to be vetted at the same level as police volunteers.
John Plummer, who applied for the grant and is Coordinator of Bedfordshire Street Watch, said: “Street Watch is about local residents working together to improve the quality of life for everyone in our communities. I am eternally grateful to all the local coordinators and volunteers who have made Street Watch such a success, and to Bedfordshire Police for their support. Residents, especially the elderly and vulnerable members of our communities, appreciate what we do, and feel comforted when they see Street Watch out on patrol as it gives them a sense of well being and reduces their fear of crime.”
Sergeant Clare Thomas, of the Local Policing Team in Houghton Regis, added: “Street Watch is a classic example of the community and police working in partnership to reduce crime and increase feelings of safety.
“Fear of crime and feelings of intimidation, often created by young people, can sometimes place significant demands on the local police and cause people to have unrealistic expectations of what police can achieve unless communities are willing to stand up and do their bit working alongside us”.
“The ethos of Street Watch is to give residents the opportunity to get to know their communities better. We would urge anyone interested in setting up a similar scheme in their area to get in touch.”
Anyone who is interested in joining up to the Street Watch scheme can contact Bedfordshire Police on the non emergency 101 number or visit www.street-watch.org.uk for details