ESSEX residents are being reminded of personal and home safety precautions during lockdown.
Essex County Neighbourhood Watch Association works to advise residents on how to keep safe, as well as sharing information on crimes in their local area.
The organisation – which has 140,000 members in Essex – has had to adapt some of the ways it works this year, in line with other organisations and businesses following government guidance against Covid-19.
The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex (PFCC) contributed £15,000 to Essex County Neighbourhood Watch Association from the 2019/2020 Community Safety Development Fund to allow the 14 district groups to run their projects.
This year, the funds usually spent on an AGM – cancelled this year – were instead used to invest in a Zoom account to enable the organisation to continue to function during lockdown by attending virtual meetings.
Across the county, the funding has also been spent on supplying residents with crime-fighting accessories such as UV pens, card signal blockers, No Cold Caller stickers and purse cables, as well as merchandise including Neighbourhood Watch badges, wheelie bin stickers and street signs to help them to stay safe.
There has also been an increase in the use of social media to spread the word and keep communities informed.
Clive Stewart, chairman and secretary of Essex County Neighbourhood Watch Association, said: “Due to the Coronavirus, we – along with everyone in the UK – have seen our business and personal lives come to almost a standstill.
However, our Neighbourhood Watch districts have organised Zoom meetings to continue to ‘meet up’ and discuss various actions to ensure their communities receive the service and support they are used to receiving in normal times.
Our membership numbers have even increased thanks to promotional work from Essex Police, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service and of course the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.
“I am delighted by the ongoing support from the PFCC, especially in these difficult times. Everywhere they go, they mention Neighbourhood Watch and that is important. We really appreciate them.
“They are very, very supportive. I cannot praise them enough.”
Roger Hirst, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said:
“Neighbourhood Watch do a very important job in communities throughout Essex. Working with the police they help provide intelligence to officers, support the elderly and vulnerable and go out of their way to make their local area safer.
“Just knowing that Neighbourhood Watch are active in an area can play a large part in preventing crime for happening in the first place.
“The volunteers make a significant contribution towards creating safe and secure communities and have risen to the challenges placed on them during the pandemic, changing the way they are delivering messages and supporting our emergency services by distributing vital crime prevention and safety information. On behalf of the people of Essex, I would like to say thank you to all the volunteers who do so much to help keep people safe.”
For more details about Neighbourhood Watch in Essex go to www.essexnwa.co.uk