A MEMBER of Rutherglen’s Neighbourhood Watch has admitted the community-based watchdog is facing problems with declining membership.
Area supervisor Neil Michael said four members attended a bi-monthly meeting with a police officer, while 30 walkers distributed a monthly newsletter.
But he added fewer people were showing up at the meetings. “Now the 30 and 40 year olds of today don’t come to the meetings because times have changed,” he said. “The number of Neighbourhood Watch groups is dwindling.”
Mr Michael was adamant if Neighbourhood Watch ceased, police would be concerned.
“They would be extremely disappointed because, to quote them, once a Neighbourhood Watch shuts down, it’s very, very difficult for it to ever start up again,” he said. “The criminals then get to know the Neighbourhood Watch is down and so they possibly restart their offending again in the area.”
Mr Michael said his Rutherglen division worked closely with police. “Sergeant Brian Curran is a really good asset to have,” he said. “He keeps us well informed and is a firm backer of Neighbourhood Watch.”
During the bi-monthly meetings, police inform volunteers of crimes that have recently occurred in the area. Rutherglen’s Neighbourhood Watch has also been the recipient of money from those who have donated under a diversion program from the local courthouse.
Mr Michael said they reinvested in money toward crime prevention, such as buying equipment for the local police. “Police have requested equipment they don’t have and we were able to purchase it for them,” he said.
The body also worked with nearby schools assisting with the cool heads road safety program.
Mr Michael believed Neighbourhood Watch provided a framework for a community to maintain a channel of communication between one another that diminished criminals’ confidence. “You rely on neighbours keeping an eye on one another’s homes,” he said.
He said the addition of “absence from residence” forms to their newsletter assisted police. “They got dozens back, in contrast to only a few prior to when Neighbourhood Watch decided to include it in a newsletter,” he said.
However, Mr Michael did concede Neighbourhood Watch may not be the force it once was.
“They’re all in short supply around the state these days,” he said. “We’re looking at going on Facebook and all that sort of thing but if we stopped the hard copy newsletter the elderly would not be kept up to date,” he said.