Neighbourhood Watch 20 years on
On a cold winter evening 20 years ago, Brookmans Park and Little Heath Neighbourhood Watch Scheme held its first meeting.
Top of the agenda was the problem of teenagers wandering around the village and concern about fighting between rival gangs of youths from neighbouring villages.
Twenty years later and similar issues were still being discussed at the first Neighbourhood Watch meeting held in 2003.
Also on the agenda, at that first meeting in November 1982, was the increase in the number of children's bicycles being stolen; how to help Guides deal with hostile gangs; the adoption of an early warning system for shopkeepers and how such a crime alert system could benefit the community in general.
However, according to minutes kept of that first meeting, the issue at the top of the list was what to do to deal with teenagers who gathered in the village and stopping fighting between rival gangs from Cuffley and Welham Green.
Since that meeting in 1982, Brookmans Park and Little Heath Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators have been gathering every four months, in January, May and September.
Minutes have been kept of every meeting since the group's inception, creating an archive of more than 60 sets of notes and details of local crime figures and issues affecting the community.
Over the years the group has been responsible for a number of initiatives, including organising DIY enthusiasts in the community to fit safety chains on the doors of elderly neighbours, organising post-coding for bicycles and arranging public meetings for local residents to meet the local police team.
Brookmans Park and Little Heath Neighbourhood Watch Scheme is made up of local residents and the community police officer PC Vojislav Mihailovic.
At the meetings PC Mihailovic passes on the latest crime figures to the group and members are invited to contribute to the contents of the next Neighbourhood Watch newsletter.
The details are then agreed and printed out in a newsletter and delivered door-to-door through a chain of area co-ordinators and local co-ordinators.
There are nine Neighbourhood Watch area co-ordinators in Brookmans Park and Little Heath. Seven are on the group's committee.
They are responsible for delivering the newsletters to the 81 local co-ordinators and for passing on police information where necessary.
The local co-ordinators deliver the newsletters to between 10 and 15 homes in their 'patch'.
Not all homes are covered because, the group says, not everyone wants to be involved.
Only those areas where residents have expressed an interest in being included in Neighbourhood Watch are covered.
The Area co-ordinators form the core of the meetings (the next one is May) and any incidents which cause concern to Neighbourhood Watch members can be passed on to them to be brought up at the meetings.
Any residents can raise an issue, through an area co-ordinator or local co-ordinator if you know them, and it will be discussed at the next scheduled meeting.
If you don't know your co-ordinator you can pass on information by contacting the Brookmans Park and Little Heath Neighbourhood Watch Scheme secretary, Brenda Harris, on 01707-655355.
When residents move out of the area and a co-ordinator is lost to the distribution network, the Neighbourhood Watch group tries to find a replacement.
The meetings between area co-ordinators and the local police officer are short, averaging 75 minutes, and are held in the afternoon in different homes by rotation.
Some area co-ordinators and local co-ordinators also receive automated police alerts via the telephone, as does this site, and are asked to pass such messages on to their neighbours.
These is called the crime alert voice mail system.
When such an alert comes through, a news item is usually placed on this site, accompanied by the Neighbourhood Watch Crime Alert symbol.
Brookmans Park and Little Heath Neighbourhood Watch Scheme was set up following permission from Hertfordshire Constabulary.
Divisional Commanders of the Hertfordshire Constabulary were given the chance to form Crime Prevention Groups where they felt they were needed.
This included villages where there was a residential Area Beat Officer, as in the case of Brookmans Park.
It also specified that the Divisional Commander could disband any group if he or she considered it necessary, reporting back any such closure to the Crime Prevention Chief Inspection in Welwyn Garden City.
The group had to be formed from local residents or those working in the area and they had to be approved by the Divisional Commander before joining the group.
No such formalities exist today however, but the community police officer does make enquiries to see whether any local co-ordinators would like to join.
Written reports of each meeting are sent to the Divisional Crime Prevention Panel.
At the moment the group is short of one or two local co-ordinators for the Little Heath area.
If you are interested, please contact Brenda Harris, the secretary, on 01707-655355.
Brenda Harris says the group is always glad to hear from anyone who wants to join as an area co-ordinator and attend on a regular basis.
The group took the decision, at its January meeting, not to put the details of the area co-ordinators on this site.
Every so often these details are put in the Brookmans Park and Little Heath Neighbourhood Watch Scheme's newsletters, but the group feels such information is better confined to the newsletters for actual members of the scheme, which they feel is a wide enough circulation.
However, Brenda Harris is happy for her details (above) to appear on the Brookmans Park Newsletter.
PC Mihailovic can be contacted at his office on (01707-638112).
A Neighbourhood Watch section has been added to this site which contains some of the details above and links to the most recent newsletters.
February 1, 2003
Note: Thanks to Brenda Harris for researching the information for this item on Brookmans Park and Little Heath Neighbourhood Watch Scheme.