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UK community calls for specialist liaison officers

More Watch teams to keep eye on crime?

Published Date: 07 January 2009

CALLS have come from all sides to set up new Neighbourhood Watch schemes in Castle Morpeth. At a meeting of the Police and Community Forum residents said they would like to see the initiative re-introduced to their areas.

And one called for the reinstatement of specialist liaison officers to ensure the crime prevention initiative would work.

"I would like the Neighbourhood Watch office operating again, with a liaison officer in charge so the community can see that person, trust that person and build up a rapport with that person," she said.

Officers said they would welcome any extension to the programme, which would be supported by Neighbourhood Beat Managers.

However, they said residents' input would be vital to bring about success.

Morpeth Inspector Jackie Coleman said: "We need people to come forward. We can provide the liaison officer because we have a team, but we also need a liaison person in the community and that is historically what we have lacked.

"I know a lot of people want to be part of Neighbourhood Watch, but we need somebody in the community working with us."

Northumberland Superintendent Alan Brown also gave his support.

"Neighbourhood Watch is exactly what we are after," he said.

"It is all about neighbourhood policing the old bobby on the beat, working with the community.

"There is a dedicated neighbourhood team to work with residents to make a difference. It is about community intelligence.

"It doesn't matter if it is very low level things, such as youngsters gathering on street corners, graffiti or litter.

"These issues are really important to us and Police need to work with the community more on them."

Residents were assured that any interest in Neighbourhood Watch would be followed up by officers and that dedicated staff would be at hand to support the scheme.

Insp Coleman added that it was now easier for people to get in touch with specific officers thanks to changes to the Police telephone system and the introduction of a single contact number.

"We have a Contact Management unit and the people in that unit have access to all officers in the Force so if they are on duty they will ring them on their personal radio.

"If the officer can't take the call, the unit will e-mail your details to them and say you require a call. You are guaranteed that the officer will be told that someone wants to speak to them," she said.

"Some have answer machines in their office and officers will pick up any messages.

"The days are gone when we had 1,000 different telephone numbers. There is now one number and you will get a response."

Anyone wishing to contact Police should call 03456 043043.


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