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New volunteer scheme floated to help police

Thursday, 6th October 2011.

A Haverhill policeman trying to put together a Streetwatch scheme in the town received encouragement from town and county councillors in his search for funding this week.

PC Will Wright aims to create Streetwatch groups in five divisions of Haverhill - Chalkstone, Clements, Parkway, Old Haverhill and town centre - and also in the industrial area.

Streetwatch is a nationwide scheme which Suffolk Constabulary has signed up to, which aims to take the idea of Neighbourhood Watch out into the community and reclaim green spaces for residents.

Open areas would be patrolled by volunteers contributing two hours a month, and PC Wright has already recruited around 15 interested people in the Henerson Close area.

He told Haverhill Town Councillors on Tuesday night that the aim was to reduce the perception of anti-social behaviour in each area.

He had already obtained funding for three of the areas, two from St Edmundsbury Borough Council, and was looking for funding for the others, assuming he could get them off the ground by unearthing interested volunteers in each area.

The groups will cost about 500 each to get started, covering costs of identity jackets and insurance.

Town and county councillor Phill French said it was something he might look at using his locality budghet for, and town councillors agreed to wait to find out if another county councillor would do the same before committing to any contribution themselves.

Councillotrs wanted to know how the scheme would be implemeneted and what training volunteers would receive.

PC Wright said little training was required because the volunteers would just walk about and watch what was going on.

If they saw anything which they judged needed intervention they would call the police and not take any action themselves.

"For instance, on the Chalkstone at the moment we might get 15-20 calls on a Friday evening," said PC Wright. Of those, half a dozen may not be a real problem, but just something that looks like a problem because of the large number of young people gathered."

He said volunteers would be able to make sensible judgements on what needed policde action and what did not.

"It would help to break down the myth that every young person is causing a problem," he said.

Town mayor Cllr Maureen Byrne said councillors were generally very supportive of the idea, although the volunteers would need to exercise sensible judgement.

"We don't want vigilantes in town," she said, and PC Wright assured her that would not be the case.

Haverhill Online News

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