Neighbourhood Watch group up to locals

Neighbourhood Watch is a community-driven thing.

Narrandera’s recent crime wave has prompted calls for a Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) group to be re-established in the town.  However “calling” as such may not achieve the aim as NHW relies on the community to take the initiative.

“It’s about the community doing it and organising it,” said Sergeant Kim Traynor of the Griffith Local Area Command. “We’ve provided information, but a Neighbourhood Watch is a community-driven thing. Police would normally be a part of Neighbourhood Watch, like we are in Leeton. We would  definitely come along and speak at a meeting.”

There has been a perception among some in the community that a NHW group needs to be started by either the Council or the local Police. While the Police and Council are happy to provide information or help facilitate where needed, formation of the organisation needs to come from the community itself.

“I think that the Narrandera  Council would be happy to facilitate a meeting, but I think it’s something the townspeople should do, so they feel like they have control,” said Narrandera Mayor Neville Kschenka. “I’m sure the Council and the Police would be happy to give advice. With the right direction and the right advice I think it could be quite successful.”

Forming a NHW group is remarkably easy in this day and age. As of this year, residents who want to join or form a NHW group need only turn on their computers; like everything else, Neighbourhood Watch Australasia has gone digital. Groups can easily be formed on the NHW website.

There is also an app, NHWConnect, which is free to download. Once an account has been created, a group can either be joined or formed online. The first person to start a group automatically becomes its coordinator by default. Once a group is formed, others can easily join, and coordinating meetings becomes possible. NHWConnect was launched in February and the technology is very similar to a private Facebook chat.

The only real difference is that the app is linked to map technology, allowing people who are living in the same area to connect. It also means that any warnings issued can be fine-tuned and only delivered to the area. The app was launched with the aim to not only encourage those who might find themselves too busy to be in a traditional NHW group and to bring in people who might have baulked at joining a group in the first place.

At the end of the day, creating a NHW group comes down to the initiative of the community, and for the community to be informed and aware of the ways and means of creating a NHW group.

“I think that’s the way to go,” said Cr Kschenka. “If the community’s involved it’s more likely to succeed, that’s just how it goes.”

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