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Govt launches Neighbourhood Watch 2.0

The Government-backed Neighbourhood Watch 2.0 programme was launched yesterday in four neighbourhoods across the Island.

The initiative is now in place in the Convict Bay area of St George's, Jennings Road in Smith's, George's Bay in Sandys and the Friswells Hill area of Pembroke.

“Keeping Bermuda safe is not solely the responsibility of the Bermuda Police Service,” said Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley. “Each member of the community has a vital role to play in getting our neighbourhoods involved. Cooperation, participation and partnerships are paramount for the betterment of our communities.

“Neighbourhood Watch is one of the most effective ways to reduce crime and build better relationships between residents of a specific area. It also encourages members of the community to share the responsibility for the welfare and upkeep of their neighbourhood.

“A strong community needs equally strong public participation so that it encourages the development of our youth, safer communities and healthier relationships.”

The programme in the four communities is being sponsored by his Ministry as well as Bermuda Security Group and the BAS Group of Companies, Mr Dunkley added.

Asked why the four areas had been selected for the launch, the Minister said they wanted a cross-section from across the Island, and wanted the most “vibrant” groups involved.

“It's a pilot programme, and we tried to cover as many bases as we could before we launched it, but there may be some teething problems as we move forward, so we wanted groups that are really on top of their game to make sure we can make this effective,” he said.

“It is a programme we need to be effective. We have seen the strength of Neighbourhood Watch and community action groups over the past couple of years, and this allows us to continue to provide a great service.”

Richard Pitcher of Bermuda Security Group said members of Neighbourhood Watch 2.0 groups will be able to alert other members about incidents by calling 24-WATCH (249-2824).

“Our operators, based in Bermuda, will receive the message anonymously, enter the message into our system and with the push of a button it will be forwarded electronically to registered neighbours by text message, and converting that text message to voice calls for both home and cellular phones,” Mr Pitcher said. “Now everyone knows what's going on and what to look out for.”

However it was noted that those who use prepaid phones may not receive messages if they don't have the balance to receive texts.

He said the initiative will be expanded to other existing neighbourhood watch groups and, in an effort to provide the service at no cost, an “adopt-a-neighbourhood campaign” programme has been launched to find corporate sponsors.

A donation of $3,000 will make the service available to as many as 100 users for a one-year period. Residents would be welcomed to the programme by their sponsor, and the sponsor's corporate logo would be placed on Neighbourhood Watch 2.0 signs in the community, Mr Pitcher added.

Useful website: www.neighbourhoodwatch20.com

Neighbourhood Watch 2.0 backers from left to right: James Simmons, Carol Ann Griffith, Sharath Mekala, Minister of Public Safety Michael Dunkley, Richard Pitcher, Karen Stout and Wayne Edwards. (Photo by Akil Simmons)

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Published October 16, 2013 at 2:04 pm (Updated October 17, 2013 at 1:37 pm)

Govt launches Neighbourhood Watch 2.0

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