Street Watch ’empowers’ residents, says former police officer
A community crime-fighting scheme gives residents the chance to be the police’s “eyes and ears” in their local area, a former officer has said.
Councillor James Butler (Con, Blythe), who previously served in Warwickshire Police, has given his wholehearted backing to the Street Watch scheme.
The initiative, encouraging small groups of volunteers to conduct regular patrols around their neighbourhood, has been a big success in the Shirley area.
And it is hoped that an event this weekend will encourage recruits to pound the pavement in nearby Monkspath and Hillfield.
“From my point of view I want to empower residents,” said Cllr Butler.
“Many people are concerned about crime rates … This is a perfect opportunity for people to come and get involved and make a difference to their area.”
Elected following a by-election earlier this year, he said that crime had been one of the key issues raised on the doorstep while canvassing in the ward.
“There’s no doubt that crime figures aren’t great, but fear [of it] is a contributing factor to all this.
“Social media is a double-edged sword. We can share really valuable information, but … if you had a burglary in the next street 10 or 11 years ago, you just wouldn’t have heard about it. Now it can be online within minutes.”
The Street Watch scheme has been rolled out to a number of areas of Solihull since its inception.
The Shirley group previously mentioned was shortlisted at the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Outstanding Citizens Awards earlier in the year and a branch over in Elmdon is looking to further bolster its numbers.
There have, however, been some concerns that the initiative is relying on residents to fill gaps in a force which has lost a significant number of officers in recent years, although this suggestion has been refuted by Cllr Butler.
“We have a fantastic local policing team now,” he said. “This isn’t replacing police officers … it’s a bolt-on.”
The Street Watch event will be taking place tomorrow (Saturday 20th October), with a chance to talk to existing volunteers and police.
People interested in finding out more about getting involved should meet at the car park, next to Tudor Grange Park’s pitch and putt, at 2pm.
The group will then be making their way down to Hillfield Park in an exercise not dissimilar to the sort of patrols that Street Watch teams conduct as part of their volunteering.
Read more: https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/street-watch-empowers-residents-says-15302813