Colin Britchford chaired the October meeting of Beech Neighbourhood Watch. Participants included Beech Parish Council chair, our local Police Community Support Officer (PCSO), Hampshire Neighbour Watch Coordinator, and Beech village area coordinators . Full minutes of the meeting are published as follows:
Beech Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator Meeting, Ref. NW 114
Minutes, 16th October 2019 at 8.00 pm at Beech Village Hall
Actions in Italics
Colin Britchford, Clair Groom, John Tomalin, Graham Webb (Parish Council Chairman), David Robinson, Margaret Filey (Hants Neighbourhood Watch), Charles Cockburn, PCSO David Nops, Ann Monk, Sue Bailey, Tony Ransley
Charlotte Wigzell, Sarah Neish, James Anderson, Richard Butt, Nick Charman, Sally Leach, John Emmerson, Chris Brandon-Trye, Paula Langley
Colin thanked everyone for their support over the past year. Welcomes were expressed to Graham as the New Chairman of the PC who have funded the Watch over a long period, Margaret and David Nops for attending despite a busy schedule and Tony Ransley who has taken on the most valuable job of reporting crime incidents. Nick Charman is also now a welcome as a replacement for Ian Dumelow who served the Watch for a number of years.
Minutes of Last Meeting
The minutes were approved as an accurate record.
Actions from Last Meeting:
Item 7 Scams:
After some debate during the year it has been decided that we should not be involved in advising villagers of the pros and cons of Smart Meters.
Item 8, Website and Social Media:
John Emmerson has kept the website up to date although with the advent of the highly successful Next Door, this is now used for longer term information, such as contacts.
Tony has now taken on the task of alerting the village through Next Door of immediate issues and the monthly crime figures. Weekly crime figures are also distributed to the coordinators to send out as they feel appropriate.
Item 10 Credit Card Wallets.The wallets were distributed with some positive feedback from Villagers. Thanks were expressed to David R for leading the initiative and all coordinators who took part in the distribution.
Item 12 Articles for the Newsletter:Colin has written a couple during the year giving advice on incidents and measures that should be considered, in particular home CCTV as recommended by the police. The police had also recommended a CCTV to survey traffic entering and leaving the village. A preliminary investigation was made but the idea did not seem to gather support.
The defibrillator has been now been installed outside the hall.
Margaret Filey Hampshire Report.
Paula Langley was appointed as the new Alton area Coordinator. There is an issue of circulating and duplicating information that Margaret and Paula will clarify. Connectivity is an issue and Margaret would like to improve the communications between information ‘silos’.Colin/David Rwill send to Margaret all of the Beech Coordinator Contact details
With the reduction in police numbers, the Chief Constable values the involvement of volunteers from Neighbourhood Watch. Margaret asked that we should continue to raise with her any concerns that arise so that she can pass these on.
Incidents involving older drivers are increasing and initiatives are being considered. This is a new departure for the Watch which has not really been involved in road safety. However this may be direction for the Watch to evolve towards in the future to be more involved in a ‘Caring Community’. This is driven by Social Concern calls to the police, domestic abuse issues and targeting of the elderly by criminals. It will be interesting to follow how the Watch evolves in its Mission Statement, resources and relationships to other such Community Care organisations without diluting the emphasis on property and personnel security.
Last year Margaret reported that there has been a poor response to cyber-crime and a county group has been formed to focus on this issue. However National Newspapers have exposed the shortcomings of Action Fraud and the manipulation of scam figures by the Home Office. The meeting expressed the view that some considerable political will is needed to improve the response of the authorities in terms of resources and procedures to address the explosive rates of increase in this crime. Maybe Neighbour Hood Watch as a National organisation and coordinators with the Police, local radio and other interested parties should be organising effective lobbying of Ministers and MP’s on this important matter which for too long has been ignored, yet creates a daily misery for probably millions. It would nice to see this issue as a Cyber Scam initiative in a political party election manifesto!
After the years of officer cuts it is encouraging that there are plans now to recruit and the meeting thanked Margaret for the pressure she had brought on this subject.
David Nops reported that 5 officers have departed and not replaced. There now 2 officers and 3 PCSO’s to cover the area from the Coxbridge roundabout to Ropley. Fortunately the current government initiative will create more officers for Alton and an extra 150 for the whole of Hampshire. Response cars for immediate assistance have not been affected.
Crime trends have seen targeted burglaries in large houses and outhouses containing machinery. David strongly recommended that sheds were alarmed and that houses should have burglar alarms, that today were a simple installation. Residents should look out and report suspicious activities, particularly strangers taking photographs.
101 has been criticised for a poor response although recently there was a very favourable report from a villager. Margaretwill follow up these concerns on 101.
Purse thieves have been active again in Alton. Margaret advised the simple idea of alarming a purse with a small bell as found on a cat’s collar.
Drug gangs crossing County Lines as reported in the press are a growing problem and villagers should look out for suspicious activity.
The support of the Police for the Watch and the Community are appreciated when they are under so many pressures at the moment.
Colin will issue a short note to villagers in the village newsletter on these issues raised by David. Colin
Beech Incident Report.
Crime in Beech seems to be punctuated by periods of outbuilding break-ins every 9 to 12 months. It’s as though the criminals have us in their diary.
Apart from these more serious incidents there have been reports of bicycles and a garden bench stolen.
The main concern of villagers has been numerous internet, telephone and postal scams that seem like a daily occurrence and there needs to be better and more National Action on this matter as raised earlier.
Recently villagers reported that they had had valuable items stolen from their home. They suspected, but could not prove this had been perpetrated by a person who regularly provided services to the house. Villagers have been advised when responding to adverts that they should obtain and check references before appointing trades people that may be left in the house alone.
Scams are the biggest issue in the village and Richard continues to provide support to victims. His report is attached. A newsletter article over the coming months will highlight this issue once more. Colin
Beech Village Website and Social Media
The successful Next Door Beech has been increasingly used for messaging. This has been helped by Tony taking on the task.
John E had nothing to report on the Village Website
Data Base and Area Allocation Report
David R requested that all coordinators keep him up to date on their contact lists. All
Current Situation is as follows.
234 properties on the data base
65% registered on the Watch for e mail messaging
After the recent break-ins we have recruited a few more houses in the past year.
All co-ordinators should be on the lookout for new villagers to deliver welcome packs, in their patch. All
David will send out guidance for coordinators recruiting new participants
The meeting thanked David for his work on keeping the data base up to date.
Richardhad forwarded the accounts that had been signed and audited by Chris. They were passed to Graham at the meeting for his records. A copy of the accounts is attached; we need no further cash injection from the PC at the current time. The current balance is £115.61 as on the attached copy of the accounts, benefitting from a donation by Trish Candy of £29.99
The meeting thanked Richard and Chris as well as Graham for the PC’s support.
Article for Beech Newsletter
Colin will write an article on the issues discussed at the meeting.
Any Other Business
A number of issues were raised about e mails and communications in general. Duplication, lack of defined responsibilities, same message coming from different directions and cumbersome was some of the comments. It was discussed briefly without any outcome. However since the meeting I have decided to produce a discussion document on the matter for everyone to consider as there are clearly improvements that could be made. Colin
Date of Next Meeting
To be arranged as required in 2020 Colin