Dozens of new signs declaring Stourport as a Neighbourhood Watch heartland are due to appear around the town as part of a concerted fightback against crime in the community.
The initiative aims to send a clear “keep out” message to criminals tempted to target homes and cars, coupled with a new style communications campaign waged on social media.
The campaign was launched at Stourport Co-op on Friday (October 19) by Stourport Mayor David Little, Wyre Forest MP Mark Garnier, David Allcock, who chairs the PACT Stourport group, police representatives and the Neighbourhood Watch team.
Craig Cox, who chairs West Mercia Neighbourhood Watch, said: “We need to work together to prevent crime and keep ourselves and our communities safe, and also to share information with the police, using whatever means we can. We need to accept that, with dwindling police resources and more demand, we have to do more for ourselves and our neighbours.”
He added: “Stourport has been the birthplace of the re-emergence of Neighbourhood Watch across West Mercia. We are launching our new signage here because the Stourport community has come together to show that Neighbourhood Watch does still exist, and it does still work. Together we can have an impact on crime in our communities.”
The signs will be rolled out in Kidderminster and Bewdley and then across West Mercia and will support online efforts to engage with residents, particularly through the use of Facebook and Twitter.
Deborah Cox, who is on the West Mercia Neighbourhood Watch social media panel, said the organisation had moved with the times, switching in recent months from poorly attended quarterly meetings to the use of social media and direct messaging.
In September the group reached more than one million people with posts shared from residents and the police.
To complement this success, the group has designed the new large format modern signs to go up around Wyre Forest, starting in Stourport.
The growth and revival of Neighbourhood Watch in West Mercia has been recognised by John Campion, the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner, who provided a grant to support the West Mercia Neighbourhood Watch signs initiative.
“Our signs will be sited at key locations and are designed to have maximum impact to warn criminals and those intent on anti social behaviour that, while the police can’t be everywhere, our community is watching.”
Studies have proven that active Neighbourhood Watch communities are less likely to fall victim to criminal and anti-social behaviour; and that high visibility signage raises awareness of the existence of Neighbourhood Watch communities to further reduce the risk of crime.
The launch was recorded and posted on the West Mercia Neighbourhood Watch Facebook page, which you can view below.
The event was carried out at Stourport Co-op, who are sponsors of the Neighbourhood Watch national charity, Neighbourhood Watch Network.