At a State forum last November, Neighbourhood Watch WA director Bernie Durkin announced planned changes to the program, which included removing all existing positions of street representatives and suburb managers. He said the program had to change from its 30-year-old model to survive.
He said at the time that residents could sign up to Neighbourhood Watch by email and the officers in charge of local police stations would send out regular email updates.
Neighbourhood Watch State co-ordinator Yolanda Zec confirmed Neighbourhood Watch would introduce a range of additional measures to increase its online presence this year.
She said a statewide roll out of the ewatch system would occur in September once it had been tested and improved.
However, Stirling’s district branch co-ordinator Les Gray said volunteers could provide more help to people on the ground than from behind a computer.
In his four years with the branch, which covers Mt Lawley, Menora, Coolbinia, Inglewood, Yokine and Dianella, Mr Gray has called an ambulance for a stroke victim, helped locate a missing child and secured the scene at a truck-rollover before emergency services could attend.
‘Those couple of incidents highlight the advantage of having people on the street,’ he said.
He said that while the branch had never received funds from Neighbourhood Watch WA, it relied on the organisation for updated literature and resources.
‘We have survived strictly on our own initiative and the kindness and support of a strong group of people,’ he said.
He added that people warmed to Neighbourhood Watch volunteers and felt safe knowing it was operating to meet local need.
Residents should continue to report suspicious activity as it happens by calling police on 131 444, or call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 with general information on crime.