Havering Streetwatch appeal for more volunteers but no 'time-wasters' please
PUBLISHED: 10:05 11 January 2019
Havering Streetwatch is appealing for more volunteers to help reduce the amount of crime in the borough, but co-ordinator Sally Miller doesn't want any "time-wasters".
The group was set up around three years ago and involves residents wearing high visibility jackets and patrolling their streets in a bid to reduce crime.
Since it first started the group has grown from five members to 27, but after seeing the initiative’s success in Redbridge, where nearly 250 are signed up to Streetwatch, Sally sees no reason why Havering can’t have just as many volunteers.
The co-ordinator said they have in the past had a problem with volunteers signing up, safety checks being carried out and equipment handed out, but then people decide they don’t want to take part in patrols.
“Committed volunteers” are what Sally is looking for, and not just those who get in touch as a “knee-jerk reaction” to an incident happening to themselves, a friend or family member.
Sally said: “The problem is that as we’re quite visible with our high-vis jackets, people don’t often want to take part.
“People want to do things behind closed doors, but that really isn’t the answer.
“We’re not vigilantes, and that’s not what we’ll ever be.
“In the areas we do have more resources to be able to patrol we have seen a drop in the level of crime.
“It’s about having a presence, and if burglars or anyone who might be looking to commit a crime then see someone in a hi-vis jacket then it does deter them from committing the crime, because they know someone is watching them.
“It’s just about getting the right volunteers, the ones we have got at the minute are very good and it would be great to have more like that.
“You’re never going to have enough police officers to have one on the corner of every road like they used to, I get the number of officers has been cut, but we need to do what we can to help.
“Even if we could just get enough people to swamp one area at a time that would be great.
“Volunteers do also learn a lot from being a part of Streetwatch, it’s not just about going out and walking around.”
It costs Streetwatch - which is a community funded project - around £35 to pay for a hi-vis jacket, and to register someone as part of the team, and Sally said it is expensive to register members who then decide they don’t want to help out.
“It is a commitment, but if we could all just do our little bit to help then it could make a big difference.
“People are quick to take to social media to say that we need to do something, but it’s about going about it in the right way.”
She said in the past police had been called out to parts of Havering after groups that had been set up via Facebook decided to take action into their own hands.
“Although they might have had their best intentions at heart, they were actually scaring other people.” said Sally.
Problems with teenagers being robbed for expensive phones, clothing and their bank cards is what Sally believes has been on the rise.
“We were asked in the summer if we could attend schools in the borough at home time to try and deter crime taking place on the journey home, but we simply didn’t have enough volunteers.
“I mean it’s not as bad as other boroughs, but that seems to be the problem most complained about.
“We had a real problem with moped crime a couple of summers ago but it seems to have died down now.”
If you want to join Havering Streetwatch please contact Sally by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org