© 2017 Volunteer for Harpenden
Before the introduction of the OWL (On-line Watch Link) system, Neighbourhood Watch was very dependent upon individuals. If a Coordinator moved, died etc, residents were often left without an effective scheme. The OWL system sends email messages direct to residents from the police and other authorised bodies. Residents without computers will receive selected messages via the phone. The elderly and vulnerable get their information from the Street Coordinator or a neighbour who looks after them.
Coordinators can send messages through OWL at the level of their authorisation. i.e. a Street Coordinator can send a message to all the signed-up residents in his/her Watch. They do not need to have a record of the email addresses – OWL does it for them.
We, in NHW, talk in various forums with the Police and encourage them to produce targeted messages with as much information as they can sensibly give.
Each Ward has a PCSO and this is the primary link with the Police for the Ward Coordinator.
There are three policing areas in the St Albans District and each has a Neighbourhood Sergeant. To link effectively with the police at this level, we form groups of Ward Coordinators. We have the HRSW (Harpenden, Redbourn, Sandridge & Wheathampstead) Group from which we nominate two of us to be the primary contacts.
The District Coordinator (elected by the Wards) links to the Neighbourhood Inspector.
This approach has run well in the HSRW Group. We attend the PSF (Priority Setting Forum) meetings, together with local Councillors, where crimes and concerns are discussed and the policing priorities in the localities agreed. For Harpenden the priority is Anti- Social Behaviour.
We have several Roads/Watches that do not have Street Coordinators. We do emphasise that this is the most important role in Neighbourhood Watch but it does not take more than an hour a month. Area & Ward Coordinators are layers of help, we are not there to micromanage, nor can we do the job ourselves as we have our own Watches to look after. The important thing to remember is that NHW is run by residents for residents and you do what you can when you can.
Clennell Collingwood firstname.lastname@example.org