Haringey neighbourhood watch post scrapped

HARINGEY Police’s decision to axe the position of Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator has prompted a campaign from crime-fighting groups in every street.

Following the announcement that the position would be cut in April, local Liberal Democrats and MP Lynne Featherstone have begun the ‘Where’s Your Watch?’ campaign, writing to all roads in her constituency that do not have a Neighbourhood Watch group and calling on Haringey Council to fund the post.

One Crouch End resident who knows the importance of Neighbourhood Watch is Sally Mustoe, who set up a group on Avenue Road last year after waking to find a burglar in her bedroom.

Ms Mustoe had already set up a watch in her previous neighbourhood in Islington, which almost immediately reaped benefits when eagle-eyed neighbours spotted a resident’s home being burgled.

“It does work and I think people quite like to have the badge on their doors because they know people are involved,” said the former BBC journalist.

“Neighbourhood watches are important because you don’t feel so alone when you have had a burglary.

“When I was canvassing to start the group it was very interesting and a revelation to me how many people had had a burglary.

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“I don’t think the British particularly want to know everyone’s business or be bossed around, you want to live your own life, but this is a way that you can still help each other.

“It’s a good illustration of the Big Society at work.”

Ms Featherstone also sung the praises of the groups as she visited the Southwood Lawn Road and Highgate Avenue Neighbourhood Watch, which formed after a recent spate of burglaries.

“Neighbourhood Watch groups are great,” she said. “They can help cut crime, reduce the fear of crime, and they can be a fantastic way for neighbours to get to know each other better.

“That certainly seems to be the case with the Southwood Lawn and Highgate Avenue Watch.

“There was an impressive turnout for the meeting and a fantastic sense of community.

“I hope our ‘Where’s your Watch’ campaign will result in other local streets reaping the same benefits.”

Haringey Lib Dem crime spokesman Cllr Martin Newton added: “Being a victim of crime is awful, and the recent burglaries on Southwood Lawn Road have really shocked the residents.

“But they are certainly doing what they can to stop this happening again.

“With better contact with the local police, I really got a sense of the neighbours feeling empowered and more in control.’’

But Haringey’s Labour member for community safety Cllr Bernice Vanier said: “We are not able to support everything we want to, including stepping in to replace the funding previously provided by the police for a Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator.”

“Crime has fallen in recent years and we support any communities who were interested in setting up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme in their area – as long as it is endorsed by the police.”

Haringey Safer Neighbourhoods Chief Inspector Sonia Davis said: “We are looking at ways of encompassing the essential elements of the Neighbourhood Watch Link Manager within another role.

“These are challenging times and we are committed to continuing to deliver a better policing service for less and doing all we can to deliver an efficient and effective service.”