It was another steady year for the local Neighbourhood Watch scheme, with several new households joining the messaging system in the Astley area making the number of members up slightly on last year. West Mercia Police have amalgamated many police functions with the Warwickshire force meaning a new messaging system was introduced in the autumn. This was implemented in order to get the messages out to co-ordinators from all the different areas in a timely manner. The new scheme was introduced and ran fairly smoothly after those registered got used to the new verification process. Messages are sent directly to those co-ordinators in specific areas, via e-mail, to forward on to others in their neighbourhood in the scheme.
The local Martley police team continues to be our two long serving Police Community Support officers Teresa and Vanessa, whom have currently been joined by PC Steve Elcocks. Response/Emergency policing continues to be provided from Kidderminster Police station which remains a 24/7 station, open to the public.
During last year the Parish Council kindly provided funding for a number of sturdy neighbourhood watch signs, as requested by active co-ordinators across the area. These have been prominently displayed in areas of specific need of signage; I still have a couple spare so as older signs fade they will be replaced. The signage was low cost and the first time I have applied for funds since becoming area co-ordinator, as I appreciate money is tight for all areas of council business.
The main crime issue in our area continues to be thefts from sheds, garages and outbuildings, of tools, gardening and maintenance equipment. Suspicious people, vehicles and incidents make up the majority of the local messages passed in the area and, with vigilance, we can prevent further crimes occurring.
I will be attending the Regional NHW AGM on 3rd May at Police Headquarters at Hindlip Hall and will pass on the key points and issues to the local members and co-ordinators via e-mail.
I thank the local residents and co-ordinators for their continued involvement in NHW, and the Parish Council for their funding and support of the scheme. Sarah Beard, Area Co-ordinator