A Neighbourhood Watch network called OWL is looking to spread its wings and attract more volunteers to join its efforts to combat crime.
OWL is an online service run by a partnership between the police and the community. It is free for anyone to join, at www.owl.co.uk, and thousands of local people have already done so since it was set up in 2018, as we reported at the time. It provides regular local crime prevention news and advice to residents and local businesses; and it also acts as an alerts service. In fact, by everyone sharing information and working together online, OWL has helped find missing children, stopped scams and helped police gather intelligence to take on criminals. It is funded through the Mayor of London’s office for policing and crime (MOPAC) and is endorsed by Ealing Council.
But what makes it all tick are local Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators – and more are needed. They work closely with other co-ordinators and police officers to collate and share information with each other and their watch members via OWL.
Ealing Neighbourhood Watch lead, Dr Suzanne Tanswell, is also the driving force behind OWL. She is looking for volunteers to be co-ordinators.
Dr Tanswell said: “Thousands of residents get updates from OWL; but we still need to reach and communicate with those who do not have access to email and, as a neighbourhood watch, it is part of our job to make sure all residents know what’s happening in their area. We are not a substitute for the police, but it is important we support one another.
“Crime has increased and we simply cannot turn a blind eye. We have to join efforts, together, and with our police. We are seeing results in crime prevention and in crime reduction. Communication and alerts are integral to help us reach our desired outcomes.
“If we can save even one person from being scammed by a con-artist, that’s an achievement. The affects of crime can really hit someone’s confidence and pride, and financially too.
“There are people that moan about crime in their area or people like the OWL volunteers that want to have an active role and help to tackle crime.”
How to get involved
Community-spirited residents interested in volunteering for their local Neighbourhood Watch can email Dr Tanswell at firstname.lastname@example.org
She said: “The task is not daunting at all but requires commitment and the desire to make a difference.”
If you find your area does not have one, you can learn more about what is involved in setting up your own Neighbourhood Watch on the council’s community projects website dosomethinggood.org.uk/networks/neighbourhood-watch
You can also sign up to OWL’s service at www.owl.co.uk