I welcome this new debate about the protection of householder’s rights, as discussed on the BBC website here by Shadow Home Secretary Chris Crayling. A beginning to this betterment for victims of crime was laid down in Louise Casey’s “Engaging Communities in Fighting Crime”, with the emphasis on ‘communities’.
I agree that ideally in a good community all work together to repel criminal activity and anti-social behaviour but that is a long way off from even being understood by the community, how it works exactly and what individuals can do. Parkview Neighbourhood Watch has been given a Home Office grant to produce newsletters to explain how we can best achieve it but the sheer amount of administrative changes makes it difficult for people to follow. Our residents have not yet fully understood the shift in responsibilities for estate maintenance.
The on-demand policing we currently have with our local SNT officers taking count of complaints about a problem in an area and acting on the most complaints received, expects from people to play Sherlock Holmes 24 hours per day and report as much detail as they can and if they don’t police don’t seem to be too bothered about doing something about it.
In Tower Hamlets especially we have seen a withdrawal of financial support for Neighbourhood Watches who traditionally help those particularly concerned about crime reduction to assemble and form an organisation for that purpose.
Since ca. 7 years, Tower Hamlets dilutes the emphasis on home protection and crime prevention by working solely with Tenant and Residents organisations.
Crime prevention was easier before this new policing system came in, we had Bobbies on the beat, and they acted on their own initiative when they saw something wrong was going on. Now they do not patrol that often any more and we are expected to report everything instead. For that purpose a report form was circulated by us.
TRA and Neighbourhood Watch do not necessarily always have the same objectives and TRAs do not have as much time to commit to crime prevention as Neighbourhood Watches do because TRAs traditionally deal with repairs and maintenance of estates and also communal entertainment.
Because there is less support now for crime prevention through Neighbourhood Watches but more through community police support officers we see that those seeking more protection for their homes get less support from like-minded others and are more vulnerable to exploitation and attack from perpetrators. community building establishes itself by the community meeting.
Especially here with Tower Hamlets Homes, who pledged support for our Neighbourhood Watch, we see a difficulty to get up to the 2-star standard of maintaining estates, but also lots of money spent on non housing matters, e.g. anti-social work groups, but no money spent were it matters, which is CCTV on our estates and direct financial investment for Neighbourhood Watches as individual organisations not directly under a TRA.
The point is that Neighbourhood Watches would and should be able to remind unruly TRA’s to get their act together and pay more attention to law and order if needed. There is legally a difference in TRA and Neighbourhood Watch organisations in that TRA’s are under housing and financially supported by them but Neigbhourhood Watches now are under the Home Office but the Home Office does not financially support the day-to-day operations of Neighbourhood Watches in principle. The Home Office seeks to support and groom Community Crime Fighters who are essentially individuals without any power whatsoever.
This leaves Neighbourhood Watches to become contributions based organisations for those who want to spend that little bit more on protecting their right to enjoy their dwellings in a lawful environment.
Please feel free to make your own contribution to this article if you have a different view.