Almost 50 people who attended a Neighbourhood Watch meeting in Butler last week, June 17, heard from the state director Bernie Durkin that changes to put the program online would not mean the end of traditional roles.
‘Those existing Neighbourhood Watch groups who wish to continue operating in the traditional way they have been will get full support from WA Police,’ Mr Durkin said.
‘We are going to support existing groups (but) we are also pushing them with new technology.
‘At the end of the day, we want Neighbourhood Watch to survive and we need it more than ever.’
Brighton branch suburb manager Dave Mallett said he had scheduled the June 17 meeting as the final one for their area, which incorporates Butler and Ridgewood.
‘When we had the conference on November 10, it was stated that Neighbourhood Watch was finished as it was,’ Mr Mallett said.
‘I was devastated, so was everybody ” we have devoted a lot of time (to Neighbourhood Watch). It was scheduled as a final meeting ” we were then given information from Bernie Durkin that we are able to reinstate street representatives (and) suburb managers.’
Clarkson suburb manager Vanessa Russell said she had set up a Facebook page for her branch in 2010 and would continue to keep residents updated.
The district’s crime prevention boss Sergeant Bob O’Sullivan said the previous decision to shift the program online had upset its active volunteers.
‘(Volunteers) weren’t happy with being shut down,’ Sgt O’Sullivan said. ‘You can’t knock the older people, 50 and above ” only 14 per cent are under 50.’
Sgt O’Sullivan said of 68 district suburbs, there had been 44 suburb managers.
Butler MLA John Quigley said from the meeting it was clear branches of the program in the north west metropolitan area, particularly Butler, were unique in their membership levels.
‘As a result of the community pressure, he (Mr Durkin) conceded that they had made the wrong call out here and were doing a 180-degree turn and are fully supportive of the north west metropolitan region Neighbourhood Watch,’ Mr Quigley said.
Mr Durkin said WA Police would continue to fund Neighbourhood Watch, having increased funding by 50 per cent, and resources such as bin stickers would still be available.
Ewatch will launch in September. Details from Dave Mallett on 0403 593 222.