Crime watchdog is reinforced

Almost 50 people who attended a Neighbourhood Watch meeting in Butler last week, June 17, heard from 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 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.’

Hocking suburb manager Julia Kopytko said her branch used to meet weekly, and volunteers attended events and did letter drops, but that changed after last November’s announcement.

‘Because we did not know what was happening, everything went a bit lax,’ she said. ‘Hopefully with a bit of advertising people will get on board again.’

The north-west metropolitan 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 that out of 68 suburbs in the district, there had been 44 suburb managers.

Butler MLA John Quigley said from the meeting it was clear branches in the area, particularly Butler, were unique in their membership levels. ‘As a result of the community pressure, he (Mr Durkin) conceded 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.

‘There is pressure in our area for ever-increasing police resources. Neighbourhood Watch and the voice it gives to the local community support the police.’

Mr Durkin said WA Police would continue to fund Neighbourhood Watch, having increased funding by 50 per cent, and resources such as bin and letterbox stickers will be available.

The changes in the program structure will see officers in charge of each police station sending regular email updates to all participants in their sub-district.

Police will launch the e-watch program in September. A trial is under way in the cities of Joondalup and Wanneroo. Residents can sign up at www.ewatch. com.au.

For Hocking group, email Julia at jaknhw@gmail.com